Study Guide

One Whole and Perfect Day Identity

By Judith Clarke


Lily was the sensible one of the family. She always had been. She could write her name and count to fifty before she started school, and even tie her own shoelaces, something her mum said Lonnie hadn't learned till he was in Grade Three […] These days, she cooked dinner every second night, made out the shopping list for Saturday, and remembered when the car had to be serviced and bills paid. (2.1)

Lily never got to choose whether she wanted to be "sensible" or not—it was a label thrust upon her because she was an advanced child, while Lonnie was a late bloomer. In a way, this is kind of unfair to her; people have always put responsibility on her because they know she can handle it. We can't say for sure, but this more than likely played a role in creating her control-freaky personality.

Lily took up her pen and tried industriously to make notes. "Can a person always be a teenager?" she scribbled. "Or always middle-aged? (Like me?)" (6.9)

As the old phrase goes, you might say that Lily's an old soul. One thing's for sure, though: She's trapped in the rather unusual position of being an adult in a teenager's body. While she has serious responsibilities at home, she also has the urge to be insensible and impetuous like the other allegedly normal teens she knows.

Sitting with Tracy Gilman and the other girls at lunch and recess, Lily could take part in the conversations; she could sound like them, she knew the words: gross and glam and fave and juicy—yet inside, where it mattered, Lily felt a fraud. (6.12)

Ah, good old peer pressure. Ever feel like you have to dress/talk/act/eat/look a certain way because "everyone else is doing it" and being different is just too scary? That's kind of what Lily's dealing with. On the outside, she wants to look as average as possible to fit in with Tracy Gilman's crowd. On the inside, she knows she's just faking it 'til she makes it.

Lily was thinking dreamily of Daniel Steadman and then angrily deciding how humiliating it was to be dreaming of him. She felt she was becoming the kind of person she really didn't want to be. (12.2)

Lily may think that falling in love will make her like a normal girl her age, but she doesn't consider how potent crushing on a hot guy can be when you're sixteen. She tries feeling what Tracy and the other girls feel when they move from one love interest to another, but in the end, it feels fake. The beauty of this plot thread, though, is that Lily is able to find love with Daniel in the end, but not by acting like someone she "doesn't want to be," but by just being herself.

Mum wanted to see her daughter's private place; she wanted to sit in Clara's chair and drink from Clara's mug, like Goldilocks in The Three Bears. And though she loved her mother dearly, Clara wasn't letting her—not yet. It was too soon, too short a time since she'd left home. (17.36)

We don't need to hide Secret Shmoop Spies in your bedroom to know that you have a private place that you don't want your parents or anyone else messing around in. It's just a fact, and it's not exclusive to teens either. Therefore, you can probably understand why Clara's not ready to bring her parents' dysfunction into the new life she's trying to form.

That was the gist of the second part of the article: How to make him: pretend. And who wanted to pretend? Who wanted to make people notice you? […] She was out of touch with the world anyway, thought Lily, that was certain: the "befores in the makeover section looked better to her than the "afters." (19.13)

The article in Bestie may not present the best message for impressionable young girls, but Lily learns the right lesson anyway: Pretending to be someone you aren't—and worse, someone you don't even like—isn't going to get anyone to like you. Instead, they'll end up liking someone who doesn't even exist. Lily says she's "out of touch" like it's a bad thing, but for her, maybe it's really not.

Perhaps [Daniel'd] asked someone about her, someone like Tracy Gilman. "Lily?" Tracy would have exclaimed incredulously. "Lily Samson, do you mean?" Then she'd have rolled her eyes. "Lily Samson's weird. Her whole family's weird." (27.13)

One big problem Lily has is that she lets what she imagines other people are thinking to shape how she sees herself. We know from Daniel's chapters that he doesn't really know anything about Lily, and although Tracy has a reputation for being super tactless, she probably hasn't stooped so low as to say this stuff to him about her. Instead, many things she sees as part of her identity actually don't even exist.

[Lily] slammed down the receiver and turned away. As she did, she caught a sudden, shocking glimpse of her face in the mirror on the wall. Oh—oh God! Her cheeks were bright red, her eyes had gone small from crying, small as black buttons and gleaming crazily […] Pop. She looked like Pop! (27.39)

Probably the worst thing that can possibly happen to Lily during her meltdown the day Daniel disappears from school is to realize she looks like the very relative she's totally ticked off at. What's worse is that, as we all know, Pop doesn't exactly have the most honorable of character traits, and Lily doesn't want to be associated with that. The fact that her family's weirdness has actually infiltrated her appearance only creates more problems.

Junket? [Daniel] hadn't eaten junket since preschool. Junket was a kiddy food, like chicken pox was a kiddy disease. If his friends at school found out he had chicken pox, he'd never live it down—they'd make chicken noises as they passed him in the corridor; they'd flap their arms like wings. (28.29)

You know what's awesome about the Daniel Steadman chapters of this book? They reveal that while Lily is all freaked out about what he thinks about her, Daniel is equally concerned with his appearance and acceptance before others. Chicken pox is really no big deal, but in his mind, people are going to see it as a major issue and make fun of him. In terms of their ability to turn things that are out of their control into catastrophies, Daniel and Lily are a match made in heaven.

Although he was in love, the thought of marriage, an engagement, or simply living together made Lonnie feel uncomfortable […] because he could sense an invisible audience of people whose mouths would drop open in astonishment if he so much as whispered such intentions, who would exclaim: "You?" as if he was twelve instead of twenty-two. (30.24)

Lonnie may seem like kind of a loser at the start of the book, but he definitely proves us wrong. Asking Clara to marry him is a huge step in showing the maturity and focus he's struggled with. Still, it's understandable that he'd be embarrassed about other people's reactions.