Study Guide

Paper Towns

Paper Towns Summary

One lovely Florida day, two nine-year-old kids are playing in the park. The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. A dead body is decomposing…

Oh, gross. The kids, Quentin Jacobson and Margo Roth Spiegelman, run home to tell their parents. Quentin wants to push the whole finding-a-dead-body thing from his mind, but Margo finds out the man killed himself and wonders why.

Nine years later, Margo Roth Spiegelman, now eighteen, comes to Quentin's window in the middle of the night. They haven't really hung out since Dead Body Day, but now Margo needs a favor. She needs Quentin to drive her around on a spree of revenge against Jase Worthington, her cheating boyfriend, and anyone else who annoys her. They vandalize houses and cars with spray paint and fish, then sneak into SeaWorld as the cherry atop this vigilante sundae.

Quentin is excited that he and Margo are friends again… but she never comes back to school.

Dun dun dun…



Quentin believes that Margo Roth Spiegelman has run away from home, and is leaving him clues to her whereabouts. With his friends, Ben and Radar, Quentin investigates a paper trail (a Paper Towns paper trail) left by Margo, including her highlighted copy of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, that leads them to an abandoned mini-mall. When the trail goes cold, Quentin worries that Margo Roth Spiegelman's body has gone cold, too. What if she committed suicide just like the man they found nine years ago?

He eventually discovers that she is still alive, and will be in Agloe, NY on May 29. Of course, Quentin discovers this on May 28, so he and his friends skip their high school graduation to race at breakneck speed to Agloe, a "paper town" that doesn't exist on any map. It was created by mapmakers as a plagiarism detection tool. Tricky.

Someone built a general store in the general vicinity of Agloe, and Margo Roth Spiegelman has been living there. When Quentin finds her, she tells him that she never wanted to be found, and she doesn't want to go home. She's going to find a new home and try to figure out who she really is. Quentin realizes that he's idolized and been in L-U-V with a girl he doesn't really know—and now that he does know her, he has to let her go.

  • Prologue

    • When our narrator, Quentin, is nine, he and his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, are playing together in a park when they find a dead man. Kids these days… when we were that age, we weren't playing with dead people.
    • Quentin freaks out, taking two steps back, but Margo, like a young Paula Abdul, takes two steps forward.
    • Margo touches the dead dude's foot while Quentin continues to lose it.
    • He grabs her and tells her that they should leave, and they run to their bikes and ride home.


    • Their parents call 9-1-1, and the next day they find out the dead man was named Robert Joyner; he killed himself in the park.
    • Margo comes to Quentin's window that night, and the two kids wonder why he shot himself.
    • Margo speculates, "Maybe all the strings inside him broke" (Prologue.32).
    • Quentin opens the window to let her in, but she doesn't come inside. She just stares at him. Because that's not creepy at all.
    • He says, "in my memory, it doesn't end. We just stay there, looking at each other, forever" (Prologue.35).
  • Part 1: The Strings / Chapter 1

    • Quentin wakes up late and has to hitch a ride to school in his mom's minivan at 7:17AM. You'd think someone who was so precise about time wouldn't be late…
    • They talk about the upcoming prom on the way. Quentin is anti-prom, unlike his friends Ben and Radar, who are totally Team Prom.
    • Quentin meets Ben at school, and Ben tells him that Radar is going to the prom.
    • While they're talking, Quentin's mind—and eyes—wander, and he sees Margo Roth Spiegelman (we're glad he specified, because otherwise we would have thought it was the other Margo at school) down the hall.
    • She's laughing at something her friend said.
    • They meet up with Radar who confirms that he's going to prom.
    • The next thing they know, school bully Chuck Parsons shows up all 'roided out and demands to know if Quentin knows anything about Margo (Roth Spiegelman) and her boyfriend, Jase.
    • "I barely even know her" (1.1.37). Quentin says. (She's just somebody that I used to know.)
    • Later at lunch, Radar's girlfriend, Angela, asks the boys why Radar hasn't invited her to his house.
    • They know, but they're not telling her.
    • When they tell Radar that Angela was asking, he goes all caps and yells, "IT IS NOT MY FAULT THAT MY PARENTS OWN THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS" (1.1.84). Well, that explains that, then.
    • The rest of the day progresses as usual for Quentin—home, snack, dinner, homework, chatting online with friends…
    • Until Margo shows up at Quentin's window, for the first time since they were nine.
  • Part 1, Chapter 2

    • Through the window, Margo Roth Spiegelman tells Quentin that she needs eleven things tonight "and at least five of them involve a getaway man" (1.2.9).
    • Quentin refuses to help, and while Margo is trying to convince him, her dad (Mr. Roth Spiegelman) yells at her from next door.
    • "Back in a minute" (1.2.27), she tells Quentin, and hops out the window.
    • Quentin decides to help her anyway, and he gets the keys to the minivan.
    • They roll out into the neighborhood, and Margo says their first stop is grocery shopping.
    • "This is going to be the best night of your life" (1.2.53), she says, because she's about to fulfill every teen's dream: grocery shopping in the middle of the night.
  • Part 1, Chapter 3

    • And we're off.
    • Margo gives Quentin her grocery list, which includes items like "3 whole Catfish," "Veet" hair removal, and "Vaseline" (1.3.5).
    • Then they go to Wal-Mart to get The Club, which we didn't know anyone used after 1992.
    • Quentin asks Margo why they need a device that was As Seen on TV two decades ago, but she won't tell him.
  • Part 1, Chapter 4

    • Margo finally lets the cat out of the bag: "My lovely boyfriend of lo these many months is fucking my best friend" (1.4.14). What language—girl's got a way with words, that's for sure.
    • She plans on exacting her revenge tonight.
    • First target: the boyfriend, Jason "Jase" Worthington.
    • He leaves his car unlocked, so Margo Clubs it, rendering it inoperable.
    • Then they go to Becca Arrington's house, where she and Jase are going at it in the basement.
    • Quentin watches through binoculars as Margo calls Becca's dad and informs him that there's nookie going on downstairs.
    • Dad marches down there, and Jase flees out the window.
    • At Margo's request, Quentin takes Jase's picture.
    • It seems that Jason forgot to tuck himself inside his boxer shorts, and Margo and Quentin penis-size shame him to each other.
    • While Becca is upstairs, Margo hops into the basement and hides the catfish in the closet along with a note: "A message from Margo Roth Spiegelman: Your friendship with her—it sleeps with the fishes" (1.4.58). Okay, even Margo Roth Spiegelman uses her full name.
    • She spray-paints an M on the wall and they run into the night, Becca's dad pumping a shotgun behind them.
    • They pass Jase as they drive away, and Quentin tosses him his shirt.
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman is not happy that Quentin did anything nice for him, and they argue.
    • When they calm down, Quentin focuses on his breathing to slow down his heart rate. He's not sure if he's excited or scared to death.
  • Part 1, Chapter 5

    • Margo wants to leave flowers for Karin, who told her of Jase's infidelity.
    • They race to Karin's house, and Quentin observes that when he floors the gas in the minivan "it whimpered" (1.5.4). The same thing happens to Quentin.
    • After leaving flowers, they drive to Jase's house to leave him a fish and a note.
    • His house has an alarm system, so they rush in, alarms blaring, and Margo throws the fish through a window (a closed window, breaking it) then spray-paints an M on the side of the house before running away.
    • Next stop is Lacey Pemberton, who made the mistake of minding her own business and not telling Margo Roth Spiegelman about Jase.
    • Margo squishes the fish under Lacey's backseat and orders Quentin to spray paint the roof of her car.
    • He does.
    • He holds up his blue finger and Margo holds up her own blue finger, and like a pair of ETs, they touch.
  • Part 1, Chapter 6

    • Quentin and Margo (Roth Spiegelman, in case you forgot) head to downtown Orlando to climb the SunTrust building.
    • For some reason, Margo knows the security guard, Gus, and he lets them in.
    • At the top, Quentin marvels at Orlando from so high up: "It's more impressive […] from a distance" (6.30).
    • Margo agrees, saying "Everything's uglier close up" (1.6.31). Yeah, everything's, like, a total Monet.
    • Ms. Roth Spiegelman rambles on about paper towns and stuff. Check out our "What's Up With the Title?" page for the deets on this speech.
    • Quentin is worried that Margo is being so cynical, so he offers her a seat at his lunch table tomorrow, even though he knows she isn't going to take it.
  • Part 1, Chapter 7

    • Back in the van, Margo reveals part ten of her plan: Quentin gets to pick his own victim.
    • He doesn't have any ideas, so Margo suggests Chuck Parson.
    • Quentin says that he "wasn't pissed" (1.7.19) about the way Chuck treated him anymore, but that doesn't stop him from agreeing to torment him.
    • The plan is to go into Chuck's house, Vaseline all the doorknobs so no one can chase them, and paint his house. This sounds like it's punishing his parents more than Chuck, but whatever.
    • They go into the wrong window at first, so Quentin calls Ben and asks him for Chuck's address, which Ben gives him.
    • At the correct house, they go in armed with a can of Veet hair removal cream.
    • Chuck is asleep, and Quentin Veets off one of his eyebrows.
    • He wakes up, and screams out "MAMA! DAD! ROBBERY ROBBERY!" (1.7.60), so Quentin and Margo make a break for it.
    • Quentin wants to know why Margo did that, saying "you were always kind of friends with him" (7.66)—but Margo says she "was always kind of friends with a lot of people" (1.7.67). Remind us to never be kind of friends with her. We like our eyebrows.
    • Now it's time for the final step in her plan: break into SeaWorld.
  • Part 1, Chapter 8

    • Quentin doesn't want to break into SeaWorld—it's not like they're filming Blackfish 2 or anything—but they drive out there and break in anyway. It's as easy as running through the moat that surrounds it.
    • After Quentin makes it across, Margo follows… and a snake bites her ankle.
    • Quentin leaps into action, sucking her ankle to get the venom out, but Margo notices that it's just a garter snake.
    • They climb a fence and boom, they're in SeaWorld.
    • Literally in the next paragraph they get caught, but Margo bribes the guard with a hundred-dollar bill to let them go, and he does.
    • They fox-trot together around the seal tank and do one quick dance before leaving the park. It's Margo's way of making up to Quentin for once rejecting him at the sixth-grade dance.
  • Part 1, Chapter 9

    • Quentin returns home with Margo and she whispers in his ear, "I. Will. Miss. Hanging. Out. With. You" (1.9.8).
    • She scoots back into her own bedroom window, and Quentin goes to his own room, wondering what he's going to say to Margo Roth Spiegelman at school tomorrow.
  • Part 2: The Grass / Chapter 1

    • When we last left Quentin, he was wondering what he'd say to Margo Roth Spiegelman at school the next day.
    • The answer: nothing.
    • When his mom takes him to school, Margo isn't there.
    • Chuck Parson and his one eyebrow are at school, though. Well, make that no eyebrows—he shaved off the other one for balance.
    • Quentin tells his friends "I was with Margo Roth Spiegelman" (2.1.25). Good thing he specified, or they'd have thought he was with the school's other Margo.
    • Because he was up all night with Margo (Roth Spiegelman), Quentin sleeps through most of the school day.
    • That night, he notices Margo Roth Spiegelman's car (the Roth Spiegelman-mobile) isn't home either, and he wonders if Margo will return to his window that night.
  • Part 2, Chapter 2

    • The next day at school, it's practically total anarchy because Margo Roth Spiegelman is gone.
    • The worst thing that happens is a group of bullies in ski masks squirt some kids with squirt guns filled with pee.
    • Quentin decides to take matters into his own hands, and he e-mails Jase Worthington, saying that he'll release his naked photo if he doesn't stop his cronies from bullying other kids.
    • That afternoon, while Quentin and Ben are playing video games, Jase and Chuck show up at Quentin's front door.
    • Chuck apologizes for telling his cronies to "piss-gun" (2.2.38) those freshman.
    • Instead of accepting his apology, though, Ben punches him—but Chuck barely flinches.
    • Jase tells Ben to chill out, and he and Chuck leave.
    • Ben is impressed that Quentin single-handedly ended the bullies' reign of terror.
  • Part 2, Chapter 3

    • The next morning, there's a guest for breakfast at Quentin's house: Detective Otis Warren.
    • He's wondering where Margo Roth Spiegelman is. Her parents have reported her missing, and she's been gone three days.
    • Quentin says he saw her Wednesday night but hasn't seen her since.
    • The Roth Spiegelmans seem kind of glad their daughter is gone—they say they're going to change the locks. Quentin can't believe they don't want their manic pixie dream girl of a daughter back home.
    • Quentin tells the detective everything he knows, and the detective assures him that Margo will probably return. She's run away before, and this time shouldn't be any different.
    • Quentin suggests to his parents that Margo move in with them (and maybe he can be Quentin Roth Spiegelman) and they're like, yeah, okay, she can stay here for a bit but not, like, forever.
    • Radar comes over later to play video games with Quentin and Ben, and Quentin notices something in Margo's window: a poster of Woody Guthrie.
    • Quentin knows there must be a connection between Woody Guthrie and Margo, and they decide to go over to Margo's bedroom and investigate.
  • Part 2, Chapter 4

    • Quentin and the gang wait until the Roth Spiegelmans leave, and they head next door to beg Ruthie Roth Spiegelman, the youngest Roth Spiegelman, to let them into the Roth Spiegelman estate.
    • They bribe her with a hot Lincoln and she lets them in.
    • They're surprised to discover that Margo has an extensive record collection.
    • Quentin finds a Billy Bragg album with the same picture of Woody Guthrie on the back that's on Margo's window shade.
    • On it, someone circled the song "Walt Whitman's Niece."
    • Quentin thinks this is a clue, so he sniffs out her copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and takes it home with him.
    • He spends the entire weekend leafing through Leaves, trying to analyze the passages Margo has highlighted.
  • Part 2, Chapter 5

    • On Monday morning, Lacey Pemberton—yes, the Lacey Pemberton—stoops to Quentin and Ben's level to ask Quentin questions about Margo and to set the record straight: She swears she had no idea Jase was cheating on Margo.
    • She also mentions that Margo once said that "New York was the only place in America where a person could actually live a halfway livable life" (2.5.18). Where do you have to go for an entirely livable life? Dubai?


    • Quentin heads to class to give Ben a shot at asking Lacey to prom.
    • At lunch, Quentin finds Ben, and he hasn't scared Lacey off yet.
    • They continue speculating about Margo's whereabouts, and Lacey says she'll send posters of Margo to her cousin in NYC to hang up at record stores.
    • Then, Ben and Lacey start talking about prom. Quentin is now the only one without a date. Not that he wants to go or anything—no, not at all.
    • After school, while Radar and Ben are at band practice, Quentin reads Leaves of Grass.
    • When band is over, Ben suggests they take the line "Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs" (2.5.58) literally and unscrew Margo's door.
  • Part 2, Chapter 6

    • While the Roth Spiegelmans are out, Quentin and bros head to their house and unscrew Margo's bedroom door.
    • Nothing.
    • Ben suggests that Quentin just fly to New York, where Margo will be waiting for him at the airport and they can go to prom together.
    • Quentin isn't fond of this idea, though, because he has a French quiz he can't miss. Real romantic.
  • Part 2, Chapter 7

    • Quentin talks to his parents about Margo and they try to convince him to continue living his life and stop trying to fix hers.
    • But he can't stop thinking about the clues.
    • He decides the door is his, so he unscrews his door and finds a note.
    • It's an address 34.6 miles away, according to the navigation program.
    • Quentin calls Ben and Radar and they agree to play sick from school and check it out in the morning.
  • Part 2, Chapter 8

    • After faking a stomach bug, Quentin meets Ben and Radar to check out the mysterious address.
    • The address turns out to be an abandoned strip mall that stinks with "the rancid smell of death" (2.8.27). Maybe there used to be an Arby's there?
    • Quentin tries to get up the nerve to overcome his fear and go inside.
  • Part 2, Chapter 9

    • While circling the building to find a way in, they find the source of the stench: a rotted raccoon.
    • Quentin still worries about finding a rotten Margo Roth Spiegelman, too. He wonders if the Whitman passages could be a suicide note…
    • They manage to work together and bust a hole in some particleboard covering a broken window and work their way in.
    • The first room they find themselves in is full of shelves, papers, and old magazines.
    • There's a hole in the wall with the words "TROLL HOLE" (2.9.26) spray-painted over it.
    • The Troll Hole leads them into an empty room with another Troll Hole. It's like Troll Hole Centipede or something.
    • That Troll Hole leads into a room full of discarded tourist souvenirs.
    • Another Hole in that room leads them to an abandoned office, each desk with a calendar turned to February 1986. Is that a clue? Is Margo Roth Spiegelman hanging out with Lauren Conrad?
    • Quentin is stumped, but Ben notices some graffiti that has been painted over in the empty room.
    • It says, "YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK" (2.2.41).
    • ALL CAPS: That must be a clue.
  • Part 2, Chapter 10

    • Quentin calls the cop investigating Margo's disappearance and says he's worried that she killed herself.
    • He tells Quentin to stop worrying about her and let her come home if she wants.
    • Quentin says, "I hung up with a bad taste in my mouth" (2.10.11). He must have had Olive Garden for dinner.
    • Quentin decides to research paper towns online, and finds out that the term is another phrase for a pseudovision, a neighborhood abandoned before construction is complete.
    • He still thinks she's dead, but that she wants Quentin to find her body in a pseudovision, because what better place to die.
    • Ben thinks Quentin is being morbid, and tells him that Margo Roth Spiegelman isn't dead, she's a "drama queen" (2.10.32).
    • Quentin is offended. She might be a maybe-dead drama queen, but she's his maybe-dead drama queen.
    • Despite arguing with Quentin, Ben agrees to let him borrow the car to go hunting pseudovisions for dead bodies.
    • Quentin searches Grovepoint Acres and Holly Meadows, but doesn't find a thing. Not even Walt Whitman's grave.
  • Part 2, Chapter 11

    • Quentin won't stop talking about Margo Roth Spiegelman's possible suicide the next morning, and Lacey starts crying.
    • In English class, Quentin decides to ask his teacher to help him analyze some Walt Whitman.
    • She says the poem probably isn't a suicide note—it's about life being "sacred and valuable" (2.11.20). Oh, oops.
    • He tries to pester Ben and Radar about this new poetry interpretation the next morning, but they're busy preparing for prom.
    • Quentin borrows the minivan to hunt more pseudovisions, but again, finds nothing.
  • Part 2, Chapter 12

    • Quentin returns to the abandoned mini-mall, where someone has patched the hole they kicked in the board last time.
    • But he doesn't need to re-break and enter… He can simply enter. The reason they couldn't get in the doors last time is because they don't pull open… they push open. Genius.
    • Quentin does some more snooping with the Maglite he brought and notices that one of the calendars isn't set to February… it's set to June 1986.
    • He searches the desk and finds some nail polish that is totally Margo Roth Spiegelman's shade.
    • There is a dot of blue spray paint on the bottle, which Quentin decides means that she stayed there the night after their catfish-and-spray-paint spree.
    • In the empty room, he notices nine thumbtack holes on the wall and wonders what Margo hung there.
    • He also finds an empty box of nutrition bars and is sad that Margo just camps out there eating nutrition bars. (It's not like they're even Kashi brand.)
    • Finally, he finds a blanket. He sniffs it, and it doesn't smell like rat turds, it smells like Margo. (Unless she smells like eau de rat turds, then it does smell like rat turds.)
    • Quentin calls his parents and says he's staying with Ben post-prom, and camps out in Margo's Troll Hole.
    • It's boring: "No Internet, no TV, no music" (2.12.29), not a single luxury.
    • However, it gives him the peace needed to study Walt Whitman and talk to the rats, saying "I Am Going To Find Something Here!" (2.12.37).
    • Not wanting to let the rats down after that declaration, he does find something: a travel guide with some page corners folded down.
    • Quentin can't imagine that Margo wants to visit the world's largest ball of twine, but he's glad she's still alive.
  • Part 2, Chapter 13

    • Quentin wakes up from dreaming of Margo Roth Spiegelman when his phone rings.
    • It's 3:18AM and Ben is on the phone. He's drunk at an after-prom party, and he needs Quentin to take him home.
    • When Quentin arrives at the party, Ben is trying to break a keg stand record, which Quentin thinks is "so trivial, so embarrassing" (2.13.22). Totally unlike sleeping in an abandoned strip mall where a girl you've spent about twelve hours total with in your entire life once spent the night…
    • Everyone is drunk, and Quentin is annoyed at having to talk to them while he waits for Ben to leave.
    • He wanders around and passes a bedroom where Jase and Becca Arrington are having sex.
    • Quentin sticks around, hoping he'll get to see Becca naked, and he hears Jase call her Margo.
    • She gets angry (doesn't he know she's called Margo Roth Spiegelman?) and kicks him out.
    • Quentin goes to the bathroom, and Lacey is sitting in the bathtub, upset because Becca told everyone she has an STD.
    • The conversation turns to Margo Roth Spiegelman, and Lacey speculates that she's dead.
    • Ben finally gets ready to leave at 5:00AM, but he's superglued a sword made out of beer cans to his hands.
    • They dismantle the sword, leaving one can stuck to his hand, and Quentin drives him home.
  • Part 2, Chapter 14

    • Quentin is mad because, even though he drove all the way to the party to bring Ben home, Ben won't talk to him about Margo the next morning.
    • He calls Radar, who agrees to come over.
    • Quentin tells him about the travel guide he found, and Radar mentions a computer program that can plot a path between all of these destinations.
    • He also mentions that he's been searching for her every day, and keeping an eye out for anyone on the Internet who searches the phrase "paper towns."
    • Radar has had enough Margo Roth Spiegelman speculation (Margo Roth Spiegulation) for one day, so Quentin agrees to call Ben over to play video games.
    • Ben thanks Quentin for the ride, so we guess they're all kissed and made up now.
  • Part 2, Chapter 15

    • Quentin spends all his time reading "Song of Myself," only stopping to eat turkey burgers with his parents.
    • Quentin realizes "I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn't being Margo Roth Spiegelman. […] Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl" (2.15.22).
  • Part 2, Chapter 16

    • Quentin and Lacey Pemberton talk about Margo Roth Spiegelman, and she agrees to go with Quentin, Radar, and Ben to check out the mini-mall again.
    • While they're snooping around, a group of people in masks show up.
    • One of them turns out to be Gus, the SunTrust security guard, with his friend Ace.
    • They say they liked doing "urban exploring" (2.16.48) and sometimes Margo would tag along.
    • But she wasn't big on the exploring part. She wanted to stay in the grungy places they went through, like this one, and write in her notebook.
    • Lacey asks them why they didn't consider that Margo might be depressed, and one of the guys says "somebody calm that bitch down" (2.16.54), which makes Ben mad, and he tries to punch the guy.
    • Now that that's over, Radar notices the pinholes in the wall near Margo's bedroll, and he wonders what had been tacked up there.
    • Lacey mentions that she'd seen Margo Roth Spiegelman's notebook before (Margo Roth Moleskiegelman) and they wonder what happened to it.
    • Looking around one more time, Quentin notices brochures for more pseudovisions, and makes a note to check them out.
  • Part 2, Chapter 17

    • Quentin takes the minivan and drives out to one of the pseudovisions, Collier Acres.
    • Nothing.
    • He checks out Logan Pines.
    • Nothing.
    • Ben calls and says there's going to be a party at Radar's house because his parents are leaving town.
    • Quentin drives over and helps Radar put away all the black Santas.
    • After the party, where the guys decide to walk at graduation with nothing on under their robes, Quentin returns home to ponder the Margo Roth Spiegelman case.
    • He can't figure it out, so he gets mad and tears all his maps off the wall… then he notices the pattern of pinholes they leave behind on the wall. That's what Margo had pinned up: a map.
  • Part 2, Chapter 18

    • Okay. Back to the mini-mall with Ben and Radar (they're going to the mini-mall more times than people returning ill-fitting clothes after the holiday season).
    • They find a map (the Margo Roth Spiegelmap) and re-pin it up on the wall where Margo must have hung it.
    • It's pretty ripped, so they have trouble pinpointing (get it?) the exact locations noted. One is in New York State, but not the city itself.
    • That night, Quentin reads Walt Whitman, then chats about Margo Roth Spiegelman (Margo Roth Spiegel-IM), but doesn't get any closer to finding her.
  • Part 2, Chapter 19

    • Ben suggests that Margo Spiegel Rothman, oops, Margo Roth Spiegelman is going to show back up on Graduation Day, because it would take exactly that amount of time to take a trip to all the points on the Margo Roth Spiegelmap.
    • Quentin tries to become Margo the best he can, to the point where he just starts running like a crazy person until his friends pull up beside him and he gets in the car and they take him home.
  • Part 2, Chapter 20

    • Quentin's parents give him the minivan as a graduation gift. Now he doesn't have to borrow the keys—it's all his. He can be an independent soccer mom.
    • But Quentin still can't get excited about graduation. He tries to put himself into Margo Roth Spiegelman's shoes (her Margo Roth Via Spiga-mans) and figure out how she would have planned the trip.
    • He finds another definition for the term paper town online: "copyright trap" (2.20.42).
    • It turns out that some mapmakers put fake towns on the map to know if someone plagiarized them.
    • One of the paper towns, Agloe, New York, had it's Omnictionary (the John Green version of Wikipedia) entry updated: "fyi, whoever Edits this—the Population of agloe Will actually be One until may 29th at Noon" (2.20.48).
    • Quentin recognizes that brain-damaged capitalization anywhere: It's Margo Roth Spiegelman's.
    • Of course, it's May 28, so Quentin has twenty-one hours and forty-five minutes to get there.
    • A navigation program tells him that all he needs is nineteen hours and four minutes. He's totally got this.
    • He calls Radar, who advises him that that program won't calculate for traffic.
    • Radar convinces Quentin to spare five minutes and meet them at graduation, because Quentin has their cooler of beer in the minivan.
    • He does, and his friends hop in the car. They're going to skip graduation to chase down Margo Roth Spiegelman with him. Aw.
  • Part 3: The Vessel / Chapter 1

    The First Hour

    • In the van, everyone divides into roles: Quentin's the driver, Lacey keeps track of supplies (gum, a pencil, half a Snickers…), Radar calculates the trip, and Ben has to pee.
    • Radar decides they can only stop four times for gas, so Ben has to hold it for at least four hours and thirty minutes. Cross those legs, buddy.
  • Part 3, Chapter 2

    Hour Two

    • Everyone plays I Spy while Quentin speeds by a cop, and is glad he doesn't get pulled over for going seventy-two in a fifty-five.
  • Part 3, Chapter 3

    Hour Three

    • Ben can't hold it anymore, so they dump out one of the beers and pass him the empty bottle.
    • It's not enough, so they dump out another and Ben cleanly makes the exchange.
    • He throws the bottles of pee out the window and Quentin keeps driving.
  • Part 3, Chapter 4

    Hour Four

    • In Georgia, Lacey asks "Are we there yet?" (3.4.1), and Quentin drives seventy-seven in a 70 mph zone.
    • It'll be time to stop for gas soon, so they make a plan:
      • Lacey makes a grocery list
      • Radar will start the fill-up, then run inside to give Lacey the gas card
      • Ben goes to pee (again) then get everything on his part of the list
      • Quentin gets everything on his list, most importantly shirts, since Ben and Radar are still wearing their grad robes
      • Lacey signs the receipt and they run back to the car.
    • They have six minutes to do all this.
    • When they roll into the BP, the plan goes off without a hitch.
    • They all jump back into the van and Radar drives away.
  • Part 3, Chapter 5

    Hour Five

    • Lacey complains about having to eat GoFast bars (until she eats one), and Ben and Radar are annoyed that the t-shirts have giant Confederate flags on them, with the phrase "Heritage Not Hate" (3.5.19).
  • Part 3, Chapter 6

    Hour Six

    • The kids play a game they call "That Guy is a Gigolo," which basically involves racially stereotyping every minority they drive past, like the Latina woman Quentin says is illegal and sending money back to her family.
  • Part 3, Chapter 7

    Hour Seven

    • Everyone is getting tired, so it's time to start sleeping in shifts. Ben and Lacey go to sleep first.
  • Part 3, Chapter 8

    Hour Eight

    • Quentin somehow takes over driving from Radar without stopping the van despite going almost 80 mph down the highway.
    • He decides to pee after taking over driving duties, so he pees into a bottle and tosses it out the window.
  • Part 3, Chapter 9

    Hour Nine

    • Quentin and Radar are tired of living on energy bars and energy drinks.
  • Part 3, Chapter 10

    Hour Ten

    • It's time for another stop, so Quentin turns on the radio to wake up Ben and Lacey.
    • On the shopping list this time is Camo pants and a non-Confederate flag shirt; Quentin grabs one that says World's Best Grandma.
    • Because Radar is still in the guys' bathroom, Quentin uses the girls' room when Lacey is done, and runs back to the car.


  • Part 3, Chapter 11

    Hour Eleven

    • Construction slows down the road trip.
    • Ben has to pee (he didn't go at the last stop) so they stop again because they're stuck behind a truck anyway.
    • When they get back on the road, Quentin takes the wheel.
  • Part 3, Chapter 12

    Hour Twelve

    • Everyone is asleep except Ben and Quentin, which is good since he's driving.
    • Ben tries to set Quentin's expectations realistically, saying "it's easy to like someone from a distance" (3.12.10), but it's different when you actually get to know the person.
    • Quentin gets mad that Ben is trying to lecture him, but he doesn't have time to get snippy because suddenly there's a cow in the road.
    • Ben grabs the steering wheel and guides the car off the road.
    • The car slides into a ditch.
    • Quentin is bleeding because of a bottle broke, but everyone is okay.
    • Scared, Quentin cries while Lacey uses the Confederate flag shirt to clean his wound.
    • Ben sees gas pouring out of the car and he runs away screaming "it's gonna blow!" (3.12.21).
    • But it's just the beer bottles that broke. Phew.
    • Ben returns, and Quentin hugs him and thanks him for saving everyone's lives.
    • Quentin doesn't want to drive anymore, so Ben takes the keys, and they get back on the road.
  • Part 3, Chapter 13

    Hour Thirteen

    • Everyone keeps talking about how Ben saved everyone's life, but he tries to be modest and doesn't want to be called a hero.
  • Part 3, Chapter 14

    Hour Fourteen

    • They do their best to clean up the inside of the car (while it's still moving) and Radar looks up how much it'll cost to repair the car's side panel: three hundred bucks.
    • Quentin says, "It's a small ransom to pay for Margo" (3.14.1).
  • Part 3, Chapter 15

    Hour Fifteen

    • As Quentin starts to fall asleep, he thinks about how much he's enjoying the road trip, and how he might actually be okay if he never finds Margo Roth Spiegelman.
  • Part 3, Chapter 16

    Hour Sixteen

    • Quentin sleeps.
  • Part 3, Chapter 17

    Hour Seventeen

    • Quentin sleeps.
  • Part 3, Chapter 18

    Hour Eighteen

    • Quentin sleeps.
  • Part 3, Chapter 19

    Hour Nineteen

    • Quentin wakes up as Radar and Ben are trying to figure out what to name the car.
    • Ben's suggestion: Muhammad Ali
    • Radar's: Lurlene.
    • Quentin chimes in with "The Dreidel. The harder you spin it, the better it performs" (3.19.10).
  • Part 3, Chapter 20

    Hour Twenty

    • Everyone sings along to a song and has fun.
  • Part 3, Chapter 21

    Hour Twenty-One

    • This mini Amazing Race episode is almost over.
    • They arrive at where Agloe, NY would be if it existed, with thirty minutes to spare.
    • Now time to find Margo—well, Margo Roth Spiegelman, to be exact.
  • Part 3, Chapter 22

    Agloe

    • They drive around looking for anywhere Margo Roth Spiegelman might be hiding.
    • It's easy to find her, though, since her car is parked in front of the Agloe General Store.
    • They go inside and call out her name.
    • She's in the corner of the store, writing at a desk. She sees them, and stares at them. She's all dirty, lip-chappy, and dead-eyed.
    • "Give me like five minutes" (3.22.22), she says, and goes back to her writing.
    • After five minutes, she comes over to them and gives everyone a quick hug.
    • Then: "What the hell are you doing here?" (3.22.27).


    • They tell her they were worried about her, and Margo Roth Spiegelman makes fun of Lacey for being with Ben. Um, remind us why they were looking for her again?
    • Ben, Lacey, and Radar stomp off, leaving Quentin with Miss Congeniality.
    • They argue, too. Margo is mad that Quentin just showed up to save her, and he counters with the fact that she ran off without thinking for a second about the people who cared about her.
    • Margo swears that she didn't want to be found. She needed to leave in order to live the life she wants to live, and she plans on going to New York City.
    • Quentin wants to know why she left all those stupid clues if she didn't want to be found.
    • She tells this story about a detective novel she wrote when she was ten, starring herself (of course), Quentin, and her dog working together to solve crimes.
    • She says she always thought of Quentin as a "paper boy" (3.22.93), but he showed her how real "and fun and magical" (3.22.93) he was on their little night of terror, so she just wanted to encourage him to keep not being a scaredy cat.
    • She continues, saying that she was tired of being a paper girl herself, so she needed to leave and find herself.
    • Quentin tells Margo to come back home with him, but she says she can never go back.
    • Quentin's friends interrupt, calling to say they're in a nearby hotel. Then Margo calls her mother to tell her not to worry (not that she was) and to tell her sister that she'll try to keep in touch with her.
    • They lie down in the grass, talk about Walt Whitman, and fall asleep.
    • When he wakes up, the sun is setting, and Margo Roth Spiegelman is digging a grave.
    • Not for herself, but for the young versions of herself and Little Quentin.
    • They talk about a bunch of mixed metaphors—strings, grass, cracked vessels—and Quentin kisses Margo Roth Spiegelman.
    • She says he can come to New York with her, but he declines.
    • She drops her notebook in the grave, and they walk back to the Agloe General Store, where they carry all of Margo's stuff to her car.
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman drives Quentin to the hotel where his friends are staying, and she promises to keep in touch with him, too.
    • But she hesitates before getting in the car.
    • She's all teary-eyed, so Quentin embraces her and kisses her, with their eyes open.
    • Their foreheads touch, and Quentin "can see her almost perfectly in this cracked darkness" (3.22.178).
    • The end, and good night. Now go home.