Study Guide

Hush, Hush Quotes

  • Love

    "There are very few boys, if any, boys at school you would fall for."

    "That's not true." I said the words automatically. It wasn't until I'd spoken them that I wondered how accurate they were. I had never been seriously interested in anyone. How weird was I? "It isn't about the boys, it's about… love. I haven't found it."

    "It isn't about love," Vee said. "It's about fun."

    I lifted my eyebrows, doubtful. "Kissing a guy I don't know—I don't care about—is fun?" (3.105-108)

    In this conversation, Nora takes a pretty serious attitude toward romance, while Vee's attitude is more lackadaisical. Nora isn't looking for random hookups and meaningless dates, which lets us know that if she does show interest in someone, that person must be pretty special and her feelings for him must be really strong.

    "You find the wrong boy, you ask for trouble. You find the right boy, you find love." (7.13)

    Wise words from Dorothea. Throughout the book, Nora struggles with feelings about Patch, going back and forth between feeling attracted to him and feeling uneasy around him. Are Nora's feelings evidence that Dorothea's sage advice may be too simple? Can a romantic interest bring both love and trouble?

    She always smells like Love by Ralph Lauren. (13.9)

    This quote comes in a description of Nora's mom, and it's a reference to maternal love rather than the romantic love that gets most of the attention in the book. Nora's mom isn't around a lot, but her reason for being absent is that she travels for work in order to provide for Nora. Sure, her mom comes across as pretty clueless, but she loves Nora unconditionally, and the mention of her perfume is a little nod to that kind of love.

    "How did you know you were in love with Dad? […]"

    "I didn't. Not until we'd been married about a year."

    It wasn't the answer I'd expected. "Then… why did you marry him?"

    "Because I thought I was in love. And when you think you're in love, you're willing to stick it out and make it work until it is love." (14. 26-29)

    Mama Grey says true love takes time. In her opinion, there is a difference between thinking you're in love and actually being in love, and real love takes work. Do Mrs. Grey's words seem to apply to Nora and Patch's relationship?

    Back then, nobody had even heard of fallen angels. So it made sense in my mind, that if I fell, I'd lose my wings and become human. At the time, I was crazy about a human girl, and it seemed worth the risk. (24.65)

    Here, Patch explains the reason why he fell. He did it for a girl he was crushing on. See, this is why you make sure you're really in love with someone before you go do anything drastic: If you don't, you might find yourself roaming the earth without your wings.

    "[…] I'm surprised you want him to get his wings back at all. After what he did to you, aren't you happy he's banished here?"

    "He left me for a worthless human girl!" she spat, her eyes a fiery blue.
    'He fell because he wanted to be human, like her! He had me—he had me!' She gave a scoffing laugh, but it didn't mask the anger or sorrow. 'At first I was hurt and angry, and I did everything in my power to forget about him. Then, when the archangels figured out he was seriously attempting to become human, they sent me down here to change his mind. I told myself I wasn't going to fall for him all over again, but what good did it do?' (25.67-70)

    Love, man—it makes us do wacky things. Or at least, it makes Dabria do wacky things. Which makes us wonder if she really loves him, or if her feelings for him should be classified as something else? Possessive? Obsessive?

    'Let me guess what you're thinking,' said Jules, rising to his feet and sauntering to the front of the room. 'You're starting to wish you'd never met Patch. You wish he'd never fallen in love with you. Go on. Laugh at the position he's put you in. Laugh at your bad choice.'

    Hearing Jules talk about Patch's love filled me with irrational hope. (28. 90-91)

    Patch has made Nora vulnerable to Jules's violence because Jules recognizes Patch's feelings for Nora. Jules can't physically hurt Patch because he is immortal, but he thinks he can inflict pain on him by killing Nora. What do you think of Jules's premise here? Is watching a loved one suffer worse than enduring the pain personally? Even if you knew a loved one would bring you great suffering and require tremendous sacrifice from you, would you still want that person in your life?

    Right then, I wanted to go back in time and relive every moment with him. One more secret smile, one more shared laugh. One more electric kiss. Finding him was like finding someone I didn't know I was searching for. He'd come into my life too late, and now was leaving to soon. I remembered him telling me he'd give up everything for me. He already had. He'd given up a human body of his own so I could live. (29.90)

    These lines read like a dating profile section asking Nora to list her ideal relationship. She lays out what love is in her view: laughter, attraction, excitement, and sacrifice for the other person.

    Tears stung my eyes. With no time for second thoughts, I threw myself off the rafter. (29.96)

    Nora technically isn't giving up her life to save Patch's—he's immortal—but she knows that she's in a situation where she will die, so she chooses to sacrifice her life to give Patch what he wants, which is still brave. Do you think this is truly an act of love, though? What about self love?

    "I didn't accept your sacrifice. I turned it down."

    I felt a small Oh form at my mouth, but it never made it past my lips. "Are you saying you gave up getting a human body for me?" (30.17-18)

    In rejecting Nora's sacrifice, Patch also gives up something that he's been wanting for a long time: becoming human. They both are willing to give up anything for the other, it seems. Could this be love?

  • Coming of Age

    Vee is my un-twin. She's green-eyed, minky blond, and a few pounds over curvy. I'm a smoky-eyed brunette with volumes of curly hair that holds its own against even the best flatiron. And I'm all legs, like a bar stool. But there is an invisible thread that ties us together, both of us swear that tie began long before birth. Both of us swear it will continue to hold for the rest of lives. (1.22)

    Coming of age is often associated with shifting alliances and relationships. At the start of the novel, Nora identifies Vee as the person she is closest to, and she assumes they will be just as close for their entire lives.

    Vee shoved her notebook inside her backpack and ripped the zipper shut. I bit my lip and waved a small farewell. Then I turned slightly, checking out the room behind me. I knew the names of all my classmates… except one. The transfer. […]

    He set his bio text down on the table and slid into Vee's old chair. (1.28-29)

    Sure enough, the first minor drama in the book comes when Vee is replaced with a boy. He physically takes her spot at the bio table. By the time we get to the end of the book, we recognize this as a small moment of foreshadowing, hinting that Patch will replace Vee as the person Nora is closest to.

    I spent the evening planted on a stool in the kitchen in the company of algebra homework and Dorothea, our housekeeper […] [My mom's] job required a lot of travel, and she paid Dorothea to cook and clean, but I was pretty sure the fine print on Dorothea's job description included keeping a watchful, parental eye on me. (2.2)

    This part gives us a glimpse of what Nora's life is like at the beginning of the book. It's pretty sheltered, and it seems like she spends most of her time under the safeguards of school and home. We get the idea that she doesn't get into much trouble at all, except for some shenanigans orchestrated by Vee. In general, she's a good student who has been taken care of throughout her life.

    Twelve months ago I'd opened the front door to find the police on the doorstep. We have some bad news, they said. My dad's funeral was a week later. (7.5)

    A lot of times parents represent the protection, security, and stability of childhood life. When they're gone, it's a sign that those things have been taken away and that a character will have to start facing a scary world on her/his own. Moreover, it's a sign that there's room for a new central figure in a character's life, in this case, a male figure. Does that ring any bells?

    Patch's mouth was roaming north, up over my jaw, gently sucking at my skin…

    'My legs are falling asleep,' I blurted. (9.114-115)

    Patch is obviously sexually experienced and comfortable exploring sexuality. Nora is uncomfortable and squeamish, as evidenced by the word "blurted." Comparing her attitude toward sex in moments like this one against the final lines of the book when she readily asks for "more" demonstrates her growth in terms of sexual maturity.

    'We've been struggling for a year, and I'm not pulling in as much as I'd hoped. I've considered taking a second job, but honestly, I'm not sure there are enough hours in the day.' She laughed without any trace of humor. 'Dorothea's wages are modest, but it's extra money we don't have. The only thing I can think of is moving into a smaller house. Or an apartment.'

    'But this is our house.' All my memories were here. The memory of my dad was here. I couldn't believe she didn't feel the same way. I would do whatever it took to stay. (14.14-15)

    Nora's mom reveals the sad state of their financial affairs and tells Nora they may have to sell the house. Part of coming of age means learning about all the things that worry adults, such as money and mortgages and the cost of keeping up a house. Nora is smacked in the face with all that here.

    There is some immaturity in Nora's response when she suggests her mom doesn't feel sad about the idea of leaving the house. Her mom doesn't say as much, but it's easy to imagine she doesn't want to sell her home. However, she knows that she has to take care of finances. Nora still has some growing up to do, but she gets a taste of the cold, hard reality of adult life in this passage.

    'Dabria said my birthmark means I'm related to Chauncey. Is that true?'

    'Do you really want me to answer that?'

    I didn't know what I wanted. My whole world felt like a joke, and I was the last one to get the punch line. I wasn't Nora Grey, average girl. I was the descendant of someone who wasn't even human. And my heart was smashing itself to pieces over another nonhuman. A dark angel.

    'Which side of my family?' I said at last.

    'Your dad's.' (26.60-64)

    Nora learns knew details about her identity, including that her family has a darker history than she's known about. Settling into who you are and deciding what kind of person you want to be are huge features of coming-of-age stories. We actually wanted a little more struggle with the "monster within" concept raised in this passage, but maybe that's coming up later in the series.

    'Run,' I told Vee, squeezing her hand. 'He wants me. Call the police. Run!'

    Vee dropped my hand and ran. Her footsteps faded depressingly fast. (29.30-31)

    Here Nora puts Vee before herself, telling her to get out even though she knows it means being left to face danger alone. Sure, we can understand that Vee is scared out of her mind, but her willingness to leave Nora highlights Nora's bravery and maturity over Vee's.

    'It does make a difference,' I said, my voice small but confident. 'You and I share the same blood.' I lifted my hand precariously, showing him the birthmark. 'I'm your descendant. If I sacrifice my blood, Patch will become human and you'll die. It's written in The Book of Enoch.' (29.93)

    Giving up your life for someone if dire circumstances necessitate such an act is pretty much the bravest and most mature things a person can do because it demonstrates concern for another rather than with oneself.

    'You're keeping something from me,' said Vee. 'What really happened after I left?'

    This is where it got sticky. Vee was my best friend. We lived by the motto No Secrets. But some things are just impossible to explain. The fact that Patch was a fallen-turned-guardian angel topped the list. (30.65-66)

    It seems like that "invisible thread" mentioned in the first chapter has been broken, and now Nora is closer to Patch than to she is to Vee.

  • Sex

    I walked into biology and my jaw fell open. Mysteriously adhered to the chalkboard was a Barbie doll, with Ken at her side. They'd been forced to link arms and were naked except for artificial leaves placed in a few choice locations. Scribbled above their heads in thick pink chalk was the invitation:


    Boom, welcome to this book. The bio teacher is setting his class up for the scientific study of human reproduction, but starting the book of this way also sets readers up to know that sex is most definitely in the mix.

    'Why, Vee,' I said. 'I could've sworn you've been looking forward to this unit all semester.'

    Vee lowered her lashes and smiled wickedly. 'This class isn't going to teach me anything I don't already know.' (1.3-4)

    The ways different characters talk about and act on sex reveals a lot about their inner characters. Vee is much bolder and open about sex than Nora, often making jokes and innuendos. Sure enough, she's generally a bolder, brasher person than Nora is, too.

    Stepping away from the plate, I took a few more practice swings. I almost missed Elliot coming up behind me. He reached his arms around me and positioned his hands on the bat, flush with mine.

    'Let me show you, he said in my ear. 'Like this. Feel that? Relax. Now pivot your hips—it's all in the hips.' (6.36-37)

    In this mildly steamy moment, Elliot tries to build sexual chemistry with Nora. We find out later that Elliot has nefarious intentions in his aims to get close to Nora—Jules wants to use Elliot to reel Nora in so that he can kill her—so this moment isn't just a flirty batting lesson. It shows Elliot using sex as a tool of manipulation.

    'Every woman needs to reinvent her sexy side—I like that. My daughter got implants. She said she did it for herself, but what woman gets boobs for herself? They are a burden. She got the boobs for a man. I hope you do not do stupid things for a boy, Nora.' (7.12)

    The voice of feminism comes from an unlikely source, the endearing sixty-ish-year-old housekeeper. It's a comical moment, but the feminism's still in there. Dorothea emphasizes that women should determine their own ideas about sex and sexuality rather than have men dictate the ideas for them.

    He trapped my hand against his chest and yanked my sleeve down past my wrist, covering my hand with it. Just as quickly, he did the same thing with the other sleeve. He held my shirt by the cuffs, my hands captured. My mouth opened in protest.

    Reeling me closer, he didn't stop until I was directly in front of him. Suddenly he lifted me onto the counter. My face was level with his. He fixed me with a dark, inviting smile. And that's when I realized this moment had been dancing around the edge of my fantasies for several days now. (9.105-106)

    Nora, who's previously been reserved about sex, is now caught up in an intensely passionate moment with Patch. She admits it's been on her mind, but she hasn't acted on her feelings for Patch, and now he takes the initiative with words that suggest he's overpowering and dominating her (we're talking about "cuffs," "captured," and "protest"). What do you make of the word choice used here?

    I scooted to the edge of the counter, my legs dangling one on either side of him. Something inside or me was telling me to stop—but I swept that voice to the far back of my mind.

    He spread his hands on the counter, just outside my hips. Tilting his head to one side, he moved closer. His scent, which was all damp dark earth, overwhelmed me.

    I inhaled two sharp breaths. No. This wasn't right. Not this, not with Patch. He was frightening. In a good way, yes. But also in a bad way. A very bad way. (9.109-111)

    Nora has conflicting thoughts about Patch and sex. She feels wrong about the intimate moment, and she's afraid of Patch. Why doesn't she listen to the voice telling her to stop?

    Without thinking, I slid my hands up his chest and around to his back. A fingertip brushed his right scar.

    Patch tensed under my touch. I froze, the tip of my finger quivering on his scar. It took me a moment to realize it wasn't actually my finger moving, but me. All of me. (22.62-63)

    Nora and Patch are getting closer, and Nora is becoming more sexually forward, though Patch is still always the persistent initiator. This passage indicates that sex involves not only getting physically closer to someone, but learning more about that person on other levels as well. When Nora touches Patch's scar, she flashes back to scenes from his past.

    'If you can't feel, why did you kiss me?'

    Patch traced a finger along my collarbone, then headed south, stopping my heart. I felt it pounding through my skin. 'Because I feel it here, in my heart,' he said quietly. 'I haven't lost the ability to feel emotion.' He watched me closely. 'Let me put it this way. Our emotional connection isn't lacking.'

    […] 'You mean you can feel happy or sad or—'

    'Desire.' A barely-there smile. (24.58-61)

    This is an interesting development. Patch is all about sex with Nora, but he reveals that he can't feel physical sensations because he doesn't have a human body. He indicates that sex is just as much about emotional desire as it is about physical experience, maybe even more so.

    'Why did you fall?'

    Patch's eyes held mine for a couple of counts. 'Lust.' (24.62-63)

    Patch fell from heaven because of lust, so he's obviously been something of a playboy. We wonder if things will truly be different this time around with Nora…

    'More?' he asked.

    I curled my hands into his hair, pulling him closer. "More." (30.107-108)

    The first chapter starts with sex, and the last chapter ends with sex, so it's safe to say this book is about sex. In these final lines, Nora eagerly asks for more sexual contact with Patch rather than encountering sex as an uncomfortable topic in the biology classroom.

  • The Supernatural

    'You belong to the biblical race of Nephilim. Your real father was an angel who fell from heaven. You're half mortal [.] [h]alf fallen angel.'

    Chauncey's tutor's voice drifted up from the recesses of his mind, reading passages from the Bible, telling of a deviant race created when angels cast from heaven mated with mortal women. A fearsome and powerful race. (P.26-27)

    We learn from the prologue that we're not just dealing with mere mortals here—there will be angels, fallen angels, and Nephilim in the mix, too. This passage gives us an introduction to the mythology the book will build on.

    The truth was, I never felt completely alone. Right after my dad was shot to death in Portland while buying my mom's birthday gift, a strange presence entered my life. Like someone was orbiting my world, watching from a distance. At first the phantom presence creeped me out, but when nothing bad came of it, my anxiety lost its edge. I started wondering if there was a cosmic purpose for the way I was feeling. Maybe my dad's spirit was close by. The thought was usually comforting. But tonight was different. The presence felt like ice on the skin. (2.113)

    Nora hasn't had any real contact with the supernatural yet (that she knows of), but her acceptance of the intangible presence primes the atmosphere and her character for interaction with the supernatural.

    Five minutes ago, the window was smashed out and the door was bowed. Looking at the car now, it seemed impossible. No, it seemed crazy. But I saw his fist punch through the glass, and I felt his fingernails bite into my shoulder.

    Hadn't I?

    The harder I tried to recall the crash, the more I couldn't. Little blips of missing cut across my memory. The details were fading. Was he tall? Short? Thin? Bulky? Had he said anything?
    I couldn't remember and that was the most frightening part. (4.26-28)

    In the book, fallen angels and Nephilim have the ability to warp people's minds and perceptions of what is actually going on. The guy in the ski mask, whom we later find out is actually Jules, makes Nora think he is only attacking the car. Freaky.

    I drew a steadying breath and told myself I'd imagined the words. Because the alternative was considering that Patch held the power to channel thoughts into my mind. Which couldn't be. It just couldn't. Unless I was delusional. That scared me more than the idea that he'd breached normal communication methods and could, at will, speak to me without ever opening his mouth. (6.49)

    Another of the powers Hush, Hush assigns to fallen angels and Nephilim is the ability to speak directly to people's minds. Patch clarifies that this is a power only corrupt beings would use. He says, "Any other kind of angel wouldn't invade your privacy, even though they can" (23.148). It is a pretty major privacy violation, don't you think?

    At the creation of the Garden of Eden, heavenly angels were dispatched to Earth to watch over Adam and Eve. Soon, however, some angels set their sights on the world beyond the garden walls. They saw themselves as future rulers over the Earth's population, lusting after power, money, and even human women.

    Together they tempted and convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, opening the gates guarding Eden. As punishment for this grave sin and for deserting their duties, God stripped the angels' wings and banished them to Earth forever. (19.41-42)

    Nora finds this info in a lucky Google search, and it provides the whole basis for the supernatural element Hush, Hush is working with. As this passage indicates, there is actually mention of angels and Nephilim in Genesis, but the novel only uses religious texts as a springboard, adding own its details to expand the fantasy world.

    There was a phone booth on the corner across the street. I ran to it and dialed 911. While I waited for the operator to pick up, I glanced back at the bag lady's body, and that's when I felt the cold adrenaline shoot through me. The body was gone. (21.61)

    In this scene, Nora tries to call police to report the bag lady's murder. However, when the body vanishes into thin air, Nora knows there's nothing she can tell the police that won't make her look like a raving lunatic.

    A fingertip brushed his right scar.

    Patch tensed under my touch. I froze, the tip of my finger quivering on his scar. It took me a moment to realize it wasn't actually my finger moving, but me. All of me.

    I was sucked into a soft, dark chute and everything went black. (22.62-64)

    Add this to the list of odd things about Patch: He has long scars on his back that suck any person who touches them into a twilight zone. The novel uses this feature as a clever trick to give us info on Patch, Dabria, and Chauncey by throwing us back into their stories with the scar-time-suck, enabling us to see these characters in action instead of getting a boring explanation.

    'I'll make it quick,' [Dabria] continued. 'I'm an angel of death. I carry souls to the afterlife. As soon, as I finish, I'll carry your soul through the veil. You have nothing to be afraid of.' (25.62)

    Dabria indicates that there are angels at work in our lives every day. Unfortunately for the humans she comes in contact with, this usually means game over for them since she's an angel of death.

    I won't be able to stay inside you much longer, Patch spoke to my thoughts. It's not Cheshvan and I'm not allowed. As soon as I'm cast out, run. Do you understand? Run as fast as you can. Chauncey will be too weak and stunned to get inside your head. Run and don't stop. (29.59)

    Patch shows off one of his fallen angel powers by taking control of Nora's body. Nora isn't upset about the move because she knows Jules is the real bad guy. This moment is also a reminder that though Patch is a rule-breaker, fantasy worlds must consistently adhere to their own strange but established rules; otherwise they aren't credible to readers.

    'You can't see my wings,' he said. 'They're made of spiritual matter.'

    'You're a guardian angel now.' I was still too much in awe to wrap my mind around it, but at the same time I felt amazement, curiosity… happiness.

    'I'm your guardian angel,' he said. (30.24-26)

    After rejecting Nora's sacrifice and saving her life, Patch becomes Nora's own personal guardian angel. They're both thrilled about this for the time being, but do you see any potential complications? For example, Nora grows older (as humans do), but Patch is immortal.

  • Gender

    Intelligent. Attractive. Vulnerable. (3.22)

    In a moment taken straight from teenage nightmares, Coach asks Patch to list the characteristics he'd look for in a potential mate. It's promising from an anti-stereotype point of view that Patch lists "intelligent" first. The problem is he never really seems interested in Nora's intellect. The other two qualities on his list play perfectly into stereotypes of the weak and objectified woman, though.

    Coach continued, 'Since the dawn of time, women have been attracted to mates with strong survival skills—like intelligence and physical prowess—because men with these qualities are more likely to bring home dinner at the end of the day.' He stuck his thumbs in the air and grinned 'Dinner equals survival team.' (3.32)

    "Since the dawn of time…" Yikes. Those are fighting words for academics, who put forth great effort to point out that gender identities are cultural constructs that change with time and social, political, religious, and economic influences. Men and women today are the same as men and women of the Stone Age? Really, Coach? Coach points out that he's taking the scientific approach, but nevertheless, he comes off as a Neanderthal.

    'Likewise,' he continued, 'men are attracted to beauty because it indicates health and youth—no point mating with a sickly woman who won't be around to raise the children.' (3.34)

    Just above we quote Coach's stereotypical views of men, and here are the stereotypical views of women. Vee points out, "That is so sexist […] Tell me something that relates to a woman in the twenty-first century" (3.35). We can't help but notice, though, that the stereotypes read like precise explanations of why Nora is attracted to Patch, and Patch to Nora. These are the stereotypes we're up against. Let's see if the novel confirms them or tears them down.

    'Mmm, check it out,' said Vee. 'Mr. Green Sweater is getting out of his seat. Now that's a body that hits the gym regularly.' (4.39)

    Vee is not shy about judging Elliot's bod. Is her ability to flip objectification onto male characters empowering? Is it a sign that women can have control and choice in sex and relationships? Or does this just play further into traditional stereotypes by linking female characters and sex?

    Vee caught me off guard with a pair of turquoise leopard print undies slung at my chest. 'These would look nice on you,' she said. 'All you need is a booty like mine to fill them.' (10.51)

    This passage is from a shopping trip Nora and Vee take. It seems harmless enough. Lots of teens go shopping with friends every day, and plenty of them even go to Victoria's Secret, which is where Nora and Vee are. It's fun to slog through the sales bins and see what you'll find.

    But lots of teens also go to shoe stores or try on sunglasses or pick out jeans. The book chooses to put Nora and Vee in a lingerie store, rather than one of these other shop options. It's a reminder that even in a casual, social event with a friend, sex is at the forefront in the book, as is the issue of female sexual objectification.

    Patch was warm and solid, and he smelled fantastic. Like mint and rich, dark earth. Nobody had jumped out at us on the ride home […] For the first time all day I felt safe.

    Except that Patch had cornered me in a dark tunnel and was possible stalking me. Maybe not so safe.

    'I don't go out with strangers,' I said.

    'Good thing I do. I'll pick you up at five.' (17.140-43)

    Could Patch be any more the poster boy for male stereotypes? He's attractive and strong, both dangerous and protective, dominant, suave, smooth talking, and a hardnosed negotiator who doesn't take no for an answer.

    'Let's get you in the car,' Patch said. He pulled me up, and I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face into him.

    'I think I'm going to be sick,' I said. The world tilted, including Patch. 'I need my iron pills.'

    'Shh,' he said, holding me against him. 'It's going to be all right. I'm here now.' (21.73-75)

    Nora has just seen a woman lying dead in the street, so of course she's upset. We'd even go so far as to say it's even a good thing that she's upset. At the same time, Nora is a totally incapacitated mess, so much so that she claims to be in need of medication. It's almost a throwback to the days when women were presented as having frequent fainting spells. Get this girl some smelly salts, stat.

    I could smell the fear on my breath. 'Where's Vee?'

    He slapped my cheek. 'Don't change the subject. You really should learn to control your fear. Fear undermines logic and opens up all sorts of opportunities for people like me.' (28.33-34)

    It's the old women-need-to-learn-to-control-their-emotions shtick. In this exchange, Jules even slaps Nora as if to break her from her hysteria. There are other moments in the book where female characters are driven strongly by emotion. Dabria's wild attack of jealousy comes to mind. Are there any examples where male characters seem to act on emotion? Do the ways female and male characters deal with emotions seem to be different?

    'Do you want to know the best part? You could have blocked me out. I couldn't have touched your mind without your permission. I reached in, and you never resisted. You were weak. You were easy.' (28.80)

    This quote is a very blunt and very troubling explanation of Jules's ability to enter Nora's mind and control her thoughts. The terms "weak" and "easy" are really pejorative terms for women these days, and they feed into the women-as-sex-objects mentality. However, we know by this point that Jules is the villain, so aligning this view of women with an extremely negative and evil character also suggests that the view itself is entirely bad.

    Come on, I heard Patch urge him Pass out… pass out…
    But it was too late. Patch vanished from inside me. (29.61-62)

    Patch comes to Nora's aid many times, but he can't save her from Jules. Nora fights Jules off with some success on her own, stabbing him in the leg and kneeing him in the groin. When Jules catches her again in the gym and holds a gun to her head, Patch enters her body to help her fight him off, but it's not enough.

    Nora is the one who kills Jules, though she does so by sacrificing herself and Patch then rescues her from death by rejecting her sacrifice. It's a mixed bag.

  • Sacrifice

    I liked my freedom, and I didn't want to do anything to give my mom a reason to take a pay cut and get a local job to keep an eye on me. (2.30)

    Nora's mom has sacrificed a lot since Nora's father's sudden murder. She used to be a stay-at-home mom, but after the murder, she took a job coordinating auction sales, which requires a lot of travel. At other parts of the book, we learn that it is a very demanding job with long hours, and Mrs. Grey doesn't like having to be away from her home and daughter so much. Nora doesn't seem to get the extent of her mom's sacrifice, though, and instead she just thinks about how she likes some of the liberties it affords her.

    'You belong to a cult?' I realized too late that while I sounded surprised, I shouldn't have.

    'As it turns out, I'm in need of a healthy female sacrifice. I'd planned on luring her into trusting me first, but if you're ready now…" (2.76-77)

    It seems like Patch is making a bad boy joke. We find out later, though, that this isn't as much of a joke as it seems.

    'Can you imagine?' Vee said. 'Living your whole life never having a clue that the only reason you're being kept alive is to be used as a sacrifice?' (3.82)

    At this point, neither the readers nor Nora know that there are forces already at work behind the scenes planning her sacrifice. In the world of literature, we call things like this symbolism and foreshadowing, folks.

    I opened my laptop and typed: The Sacrifice, two and a half stars. (3.123)

    Okay, this is just for fun: Nora has to rate the movie for the eZine, but how do you think she would rate her own story about sacrifice? How would you rate it?

    The phone rang and Mom stretched across the sofa to answer it. Ten seconds into the call she flopped back against the sofa and slapped a hand to her forehead. 'No, it's not a problem. I'll run over, pick it up, and bring it by first thing in the morning.'

    Hugo was my mom's boss, and to say he called all the time was putting it mildly. […]

    'He left some unfinished paperwork in the office and needs me to run over. I have to make copies, but I shouldn't be gone more than an hour. Have you finished your homework?'

    'Not yet.'

    'Then I'll tell myself we couldn't have spent time together even if I was here.' She sighed and rose to her feet. 'See you in an hour?' (14.50-54)

    This passage gives offers up a glimpse of what Mrs. Grey has to put up with at work. Flopping against the sofa, slapping her forehead, and sighing all show that she is fed up with the high demands of her job, but she puts up with it any way to provide for her daughter.

    'I made you think you fell off the Archangel because I wanted to kill you, but I couldn't go through with it. I almost did, but I stopped. I settled for scaring you instead. Then I made you think your cell was dead because I wanted to give you a ride home. When I came inside your house, I picked up a knife. I was going to kill you then.' His voice softened. 'You changed my mind.' (23.150)

    Patch comes clean about wanting to sacrifice Nora, but he also says that Nora has changed his mind. In the past, Patch has been an impulsive, take-what-I-want kind of guy. Having another person impact him for the better and thinking of that person's wellbeing before his own desires is a change for Patch. He's shifting from wanting to sacrifice Nora to wanting to make sacrifices for her.

    'There's a sacred book, The Book of Enoch,' she said. 'In it a fallen angel kills his Nephil vassal by sacrificing one of the Nephil's female descendants. You don't think Patch wants to kill you? What's the one thing he wants most? Once he sacrifices you, he'll be human. He'll have everything he wants.' (25.59)

    Ta-da. This right here is a clear explanation of why Patch wants to kill Nora and how sacrificing her could help him get a human body. Good thing she changes him mind, right?

    'When we get outside, we have to split up. If Jules chases us, he'll have to choose one of us to follow. The other will get help.' I already knew who he'd choose. Jules had no use for Vee, except to lure me here tonight. (29.18)

    Vee is weaker than Nora, and Nora recognizes this and gives up her own safety for Vee's sake. Nora thinks of what her friend needs rather than what she needs, kind of the way Nora's mom does for her.

    Tears stung my eyes. With no time for second thoughts, I threw myself off the rafter. (29.96)

    This is Nora's sacrifice for Patch. Instead of taking Jules's bullet, Nora takes death into her own hands so that at least Patch can benefit from her death and get his human body.

    'I didn't accept your sacrifice. I turned it down.' (30.17)

    This is Patch's sacrifice for Nora: the rejection of the thing he has wanted so Nora can live. As he puts it, "What good is a body if I can't have you?" (30.19)

  • Mortality

    Chauncey stepped easily over the sunken graves and humus of the cemetery; even in the thickest fog he could find his way home from here and not fear getting lost. (P.2)

    Setting an early scene in the book in a cemetery is a pretty good clue that life and death will be at issue. Chauncey's comfort in such a setting doesn't exactly bode well for him being a harmless dude.

    'Where's dad?'

    'My dad passed away last year.'

    'How did he die?'

    I flinched. 'He was murdered.' (1.85-88)

    This novel doesn't shy away from death, and yet Nora doesn't provide many details about her father's death or how she feels about it. Instead she avoids discussing it early on in the book.

    It was too late. The car swerved to the right. I felt a jolt of panic, and then it happened. My left shoulder slammed against the car door. It flung open, and I was ripped out of the car while the roller coaster sped off without me. I rolled onto the tracks and grappled for something to anchor myself. My hands found nothing, and I tumbled over the edge, plunging straight down through the black air. The ground rushed up at me, and I opened my mouth to scream. (8.74)

    Here we have one of many brushes with death. As much as Nora tries to avoid talking about death, it seems like she will have to face up to the issue at some point. Death just won't leave her alone.

    After eighteen-year-old Kjirsten Halverson's body was found hanging from a tree on the wooded campus of Kinghorn Prep, police questioned sophomore Elliot Saunders, who was seen with the victim on the night of her death. (11.78)

    Mention of Kjirsten's death brings more urgency to Nora's near-death experiences. Kjirsten was only a few years older than Nora, emphasizing that death isn't just for adults but that it can come for teen girls as well. If Kjirsten can die, perhaps Nora will, too.

    'I'm afraid I'll forget what he looked like. Not in pictures, but hanging around on a Saturday morning in sweats, making scrambled eggs.' (14.37)

    This is a tender reminder of the sadness that comes with mortality. Inevitably there are little things dearly missed when someone dies even if there are photos, keepsakes, and memories.

    Seeing the dead homeless woman conjured up thoughts of my dad. My vision was tinged with red, and hard as I tried, I couldn't flush out the image of blood. (21.79)

    Finally Nora has to deal with the horror of losing her father. It's not a very thorough treatment of his death, but it's a reminder that Nora has been trying to repress thoughts about his death and that she needs to come to terms with death and mortality rather than avoid those topics.

    'If I'm going to save a life, I need to know who's at the top of your departing list. I know you're privy to that information as an angel of death.'

    'That information is sacred and private, and not predictable. The events in this world shift from moment to moment depending on human choices—' (23.72-73)

    The name Dabria finally gives Patch is Nora's, but she makes the interesting point that death is not fated and that humans actually have a role in how their endings play out.

    Patch swung down off the headstone. 'I'm going to become human.'

    'Sure, mate, sure you can.'

    'The Book of Enoch says I have to kill my Nephil vassal. I have to kill Chauncey.'

    'No, you don't,' Rixon said with a note of impatience. 'You've got to possess him. A process by which you take his body and use it as your own. Not to put a damper on things, but you can't kill Chauncey. Nephilim can't die. And have you thought of this? If you could kill him, you couldn't possess him.'

    'If I kill him, I'll become human and I won't need to possess him.' (24.21-25)

    Hey, look—it's another graveyard. In this setting dripping with reminders of mortality, Patch lays out his plan to become human. To Rixon, this seems both impossible and undesirable. He wonders why someone would want mortality when he could have the best of both worlds, maintaining immortality while still having human experiences through possession. What do you think Patch's reasoning could be?

    'He didn't even care that the girl was made from the dust of the earth! You—all of you—are selfish and slovenly! Your bodies are wild and undisciplined. One moment you're at the peak of joy, the next you're on the brink of despair. It's deplorable! No angel will aspire to it!' She flung her arm in a wild arc across her face, wiping away tears. 'Look at me! I can barely control myself! I've been down here too long, submerged in human filth!' (25.72)

    Patch idealizes the human form and desperately wants to be human. Dabria doesn't understand why anyone would want to be mortal.

    I tried to piece my memories together, working backward. I remembered the beating wings I'd heard shortly after I flung myself off the rafter. Without any doubt, I knew I'd died. I knew an angel had come to carry my soul away.

    'I'm dead, aren't I?' I said quietly, reeling with fright. 'Am I a ghost?'

    'When you jumped, the sacrifice killed Jules. Technically, when you came back, he should have too. But since he didn't have a soul, he had nothing to revive his body.'

    'I came back?' I said, hoping I wasn't filling myself with false hope. (30.13-16)

    Nora recounts the experience of having died. We actually kind of want more. Was there a light at the end of the tunnel? Was there a welcome-to-heaven party? Did she have to go through some sort of celestial DMV for processing? The passage also includes the idea that even mortal humans have an immortal soul.

  • Good vs. Evil

    'I'll ask once more,' he said in a low voice, wiping a hand down his face to clear away the rain. 'Who are you?'

    […] 'One of the Devil's brood,' he answered. (P.10-11)

    In Patch's first introduction in the book, he identifies himself as associated with the Devil, often thought to be a fallen angel as well. This link is a pretty clear connection between Patch and evil.

    The boy clasped his hands around Chauncey's; their heat scorched him and he cried out.

    'I need your oath of fealty,' the boy said. 'Bend on one knee and swear it.' (P.16-17)

    Looking for some proof that Patch is indeed pretty vicious? He tortures Chauncey into swearing his loyalty. Not exactly a friendly maneuver, we'd say.

    Fallen angels are the same evil spirits (or demons) described in the Bible as taking possession of human bodies. Fallen angels roam the Earth looking for human bodies to harass and control. They tempt humans to do evil by communicating thoughts and images directly to their minds. If a fallen angel succeeds in turning a human toward evil, it can enter the human's body and influence his or her personality and actions. (19.44)

    This is a helpful little explanation about how fallen angels bring evil into the human world, brought to us courtesy of Nora's Google search. The passage also seems to indicate that fallen angels are always, and will always be, evil. Information like this makes Patch's character all the more unique for wavering between good and bad.

    Fallen angels who have a sexual relationship with a human produce superhuman offspring called Nephilim. The Nephilim race is an evil and unnatural race and was never meant to inhabit Earth. Although many believe the Great Flood at the time of Noah was intended to cleanse the Earth of Nephilim, we have no way of knowing if this hybrid race died out and whether or not fallen angels have continued to reproduce with humans since that time. (19.49)

    And here's some additional information about Nephilim. This explanation suggests that evil is part of the genetic makeup of the Nephilim. Is that true in the book? Can a Nephilim overcome this background?

    [Vee] was quiet a moment. 'What do you mean by 'physically threatened?'

    '[Elliot] dragged me out the front door and shoved me against the house.'

    'But he was drunk, right?'

    'Does it matter?' I snapped.

    'Well, he has a lot going on. I mean, he was wrongly accused of being messed up in some girl's suicide, and he was forced to switch schools. If he hurt you—and I'm not justifying what he did, by the way—maybe he just needs…counseling, you know?' (20.40-44)

    How does Vee factor into the issue of good and evil? Here we see her betray Nora by defending Elliot rather than taking Nora's side, and in a scenario that's pretty cut and dry: Elliot is totally out of line in how he treats Nora.

    'Once he sacrifices you, he'll be human. He'll have everything he wants. And he won't come home with me.'

    She unsheathed a large knife from the wood block on the counter. 'And that's why I have to get rid of you.' (25.59-60)

    Dabria is both jealous and possessive—she's jealous that Patch shows interest in human girls, and she's willing to kill to keep Patch from pursuing a life that would separate him from her. As bad as she is, is there anything sympathetic in her character that makes evil seem kind of complicated?

    I had to test Elliot's loyalty. I took away what was most important. Elliot was at Kinghorn on scholarship, and nobody let him forget it. Until me. I was his benefactor. In the end, it came down to choosing me of Kjirsten. To put it succinctly, choosing money or love. Apparently there's no pleasure in being a pauper among princes. I bought him off, and that's when I knew I could rely on him when it came time to dealing with you.' (28.62)

    It's not just the Nephilim and the fallen angels who are evil enough to commit murder; Elliot murders Kjirsten, and he has a hand in trying to lead Nora to her death. Sure, Elliot is under a powerful influence in Jules, but does that mitigate his evil choices and actions?

    'Every year at the start of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, he takes control of my body. Two whole weeks. That's how long I forfeit control. No freedom, no choice. I don't get the luxury of escaping during those two weeks, loaning my body out, then coming back when it's all over. Then I might be able to convince myself it wasn't really happening. No. I'm still in there, a prisoner inside my own body, living every moment of it,' he said in a grinding tone. 'Do you know what that feels like? Do you?' (28.70)

    Okay, we can understand why Jules is miffed at Patch. Patch possesses Jules's body two weeks every year and does whatever he wants with it. Does explaining why Jules has developed his plan to kill Nora make him seem any less evil?

    Jules was Chauncey. He was Nephilim. I remembered my birthmark, and what Dabria had told me. Jules and I shared the same blood. In my veins was the blood of a monster. I shut my eyes, and a tear slid out. (28.75)

    Nora has evil blood running through her veins. Take a peek at Jules and Nora's pages in the "Characters" section to get our discussion of what the bad blood connection could mean.

    'You saved my life. Turn around,' I ordered solemnly.

    Patch gave a sly smile and indulged my request. I rucked his T-shirt up to his shoulders. His back was smooth, defined muscle. The scars were gone. (30.23-24)

    Okay, so Patch isn't kicking back on a cloud in heaven and playing his harp, but the scars (which are reminders of his past sin) are gone, and he is now a guardian angel. This change indicates that he has reformed his evil ways. Tune into the next books to see if it sticks.

  • Rules and Order

    Part of our agreement for [my mom] working and traveling so much was that I act responsibly and not be the kind of daughter who required constant supervision. (2.30)

    At the beginning of the novel, Nora is pretty straight-laced. She does well in school and she checks in with her mom like she's supposed to. She seems like the kind of girl who stays out of trouble and obeys the rules.

    'My mom doesn't like me going out with guys she hasn't met,' I said.

    Elliot smiled but there was no warmth. 'We both know you're not that concerned with your mom's rules, since Saturday night you were with me at Delphic. (11.98-99)

    In this same exchange, Nora mentions that she isn't allowed to go out on school nights, but Elliot rejects that idea. Trotting out the parent as an authority figure doesn't work in this case.

    Detective Basso whipped his head around. 'Well? Which is it? Did he climb or jump? He could have pushed past you and gone out the front door. That would be the logical option. That's what I'd have done. I'm going to ask once more. Think real careful. Did you really see someone in your room tonight?'

    He didn't believe me. He thought I'd invented it. (14.95-96)

    The detectives in the story are pretty useless. Police officers are often representatives of law and order, but in their interactions with Nora, they often seem skeptical, mildly antagonistic, accusatory, and clueless. Her interactions with the detectives indicate that when trouble strikes, she won't be able to depend on traditional authority figures for rescue.

    'When was the last time you went to church?' I asked.

    I heard the pop of bubble gum. 'Sunday.'

    'Do you think the Bible is accurate? I mean, do you think it's real?'

    'I think Pastor Calvin is hot. In a fortysomething way. That pretty much sums up my religious conviction.' (19.57-60)

    Religion is often considered an authoritative institution. Here, Nora questions whether one of the symbols of religion, the Bible, is accurate. She doesn't just accept it as obvious truth. Vee responds in her typically irreverent fashion.

    'It wasn't easy getting down here. Lucianna is making excuses for why I'm absent. I'm risking her future as well as my own. Don't you want to at least hear what I have to say?' (23.25)

    In this flashback, Dabria points out the world of angels/fallen angels also operates under a system of rules, albeit different ones than the human world. But this scene also makes it clear that we're enmeshed in a story of serious rule breakers. Jules, Patch, and Dabria all flout the rules to pursue their own interests and desires.

    I was forced to accept that maybe now wasn't the time to rely on the logical half of my brain. Maybe this was one of those times when I needed to step out of bounds. Stop playing by the rules. (24.45)

    Unlike the straight-laced Nora from the beginning of the novel, middle-to-end-of-the-book Nora realizes she's caught up in a world where traditional rules do not apply. She knows she's not in Kansas anymore.

    'She wasn't going to keep her wings after plotting to kill you. The moment she tried to get back into heaven, the avenging angels would have stripped them. She had it coming sooner or later. I just sped things up.' (26.89)

    As Dabria did, Patch alludes to the rule system in heaven. In true Patch form, though, he has no problem taking matters into his own hands, busting out a bit of vigilante justice.

    'I'm at school. We broke in,' [Vee] said in a voice that was naughty to perfection. 'We want to play hide-and-seek but don't have enough people for two teams. So… do you know of a fourth person who could come play with us?' (26.105)

    Using the school as the background for the climactic final fight reinforces the idea that conventionally safe places of rule and order, such as school, are no longer safe in this story. None of the rules of parents, law enforcement, or school can protect Nora from Jules.

    'My mom!' I gasped. I found the clock on the nightstand. It was just after two in the morning. 'They must have opened the bridge. How does this whole guardian angel business work? Am I the only person who can see you? I mean, are you invisible to everyone else?' (30.32)

    Nope, he's not invisible, but what's really striking here is that Nora just spent the previous evening in a fierce battle, even dying for a while there. But forget all that: Here she is worried that her mom will find a boy in her room in the middle of the night.

    'This is crazy,' Detective Basso said, shaking his head. 'I've never seen anything like this.' (30.93)

    This is pretty much all Detective Basso has to say when he comes to investigate the fire at the Greys' house. He asks a few half-hearted questions and then gives Nora and her mom the phone number to a good security system company. Really, detective? You weren't willing to believe Nora about the intruder earlier in the novel, but you are willing to buy the story that a psycho school psychologist ransacked a student's house looking for some unspecified item? He's making law enforcement in the book look kind of dense.