It took a lot of work to be perfect. (1.8)
How exactly does acting "perfect" keep Macy's mind off her pain? Does it really help them deal?
Just printing my own name on the top of a page a few days previously, I'd second-guessed the letters and their order, not even sure of that anymore. (1.14)
Even things that Macy's known since childhood—like how to spell her own name—seem uncertain now. What is it about death that makes Macy crave order so much?
All I'd wanted for so long was for someone to explain everything that had happened to me in this same way. To label it neatly on a page: this leads to this leads to this. (1.25)
The death of a parent sure does shake the foundations of your world—especially when it's sudden and unexpected. Would explaining it all really help Macy, though? She knows what happened, so why does she still crave more of an explanation?
As much as I'd been worried about her as she went on this tear, I was even more concerned about what would happen when she was all done, and the only mess left was us. (1.60)
Deborah's immediate response to her husband's death is to start a frenzied pace of work—which, by the way, still hasn't let up. When would you say she transitions from a focus on work to a focus on the mess that is Macy?
I was so used to controlling the unexpected at all costs that I'd felt my stress level rising and falling, reacting constantly. (4.119)
It looks like Macy is causing herself more stress by doing the very thing that she thinks will keep order and calm in her life. Sometimes being in control is way less calming than just letting the chaos sink in. (Key word: sometimes.)
But my mother would never have understood why, in some small way, the mayhem of Delia's business would appeal to me. (5.18)
When you're trying to control something, you have to focus on it all the time, right? We all know that feeling. So it would probably be a huge relief to let your mind become occupied with something else for a change—maybe something that you can't really control. We're guessing this is why Macy is so into Delia's business.
"I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? […] It's how life is." (5.92)
So is Delia saying that chaos is part of the order of the universe? Aren't they opposites? How can one be part of the other? Seriously, we're asking.
It was like Cinderella in reverse: if I was a princess for my daylight hours, at night I let myself and my composure go, just until the stroke of midnight, when I turned back to princess again, just in time. (6.69)
Every little girl dreams of being a princess, right? Well, Macy's got that reality, but it doesn't seem all that appealing. For her, being a princess means having to be perfect and controlled all the time. You never see a Disney princess let people down, now do you?
"It's not about being perfect, really. It's about… I don't know. Being in control." (10.101)
And there you have it, folks. From the horse's mouth. Could Macy have found another way to try to be in control of her life, or is acting perfect the only way? What other options are there?
"Plus, it's so different from anything at my house, where everything is just so organized and new. I like the chaos in it." (11.100)
Between the two of them, Macy and her mom have done a good job of holding on to the past. But now Macy's ready to let go. Let the chaos ensue.
We do have one question though: What if this catering job had come a year or so earlier? Would Macy have been ready for it then, or would she have reacted differently?
My dad died. And I was there. This was how people knew me. (1.36-37)
Do you think people really thought of Macy that way, or did she just assume that was the case? Either way, at the beginning of the book, Macy's identity seems pretty wrapped up in how other people see her.
[M]y dad just knew me, knew what made me happy. (1.76)
Having someone around who really gets you can help you feel stronger about your identity, right? When Macy loses that person, she might feel like she's lost a little piece of herself, too.
If I wanted people to see me as calm and collected, I had to look the part. (2.2)
What do you think of this strategy? We can't quite tell if Macy wants to be calm and collected, or if she just wants other people to think she is. Or is it both?
I'd gotten so used to being known as the girl whose dad died, I sometimes forgot that I'd had a life before that. (2.197)
We don't really hear too much about Macy's life before her dad's death. All we really know is that she loved her dad and she loved to run. This passage helps us understand why Macy doesn't reveal more about her past; after all, she feels like a totally different person now.
It was like that part of my life, my running life, was just gone. (3.11)
Look what she says here: "was just gone." But wait a second. Wasn't she was the one who stopped, and packed it all away? Why does she feel like her loss of identity is something she can't control?
[T]he beach shack was my dad. (3.85)
Even the beach shack has an identity—and it's totally tied up with Macy's dad. If you think about it, all of her memories of her dad are of fun times: running, vacations, getting packages. What does that tell you about their relationship?
With Delia, though, I wasn't that girl, the one whose dad had died. I wasn't anybody. And I liked that. (5.114)
Does Macy really want to be nobody? Wasn't she nobody with Jason? How is that different from her identity around Delia?
So while at home I was still fine-just-fine Macy, […] the nights when I arrived home from catering, I was someone else. (6.69)
What is it about the catering gig that makes Macy actually fine, instead of "fine-just-fine." Is it the job? The people? The chaos?
A]ll I could think was that these weren't my clothes, this wasn't who I was. (7.38)
Macy's makeover might just be a little sneaky symbolism for you. While she's definitely not the type of girl to put tons of stock in appearance, this makeover does change her a bit. Does she like it?
It seemed no matter where I turned, someone was telling me to change. (7.199)
Here's a question for you: is this true? How much of Macy's identity issues are coming from the outside, and how many of them are in her head?
This was our common ground, the secret we shared but never spoke aloud. (2.20)
If they both know what's going on, why don't they just say something? Easier said than done, Shmoopers. P.S. Is it just us, or does Macy do this a lot: assuming she knows what other people think? Where else does this crop up?
As I did every time she asked this, I wished I could answer her honestly. (3.51)
When you're stuck in a rut, every repetition makes it harder and harder to change. Here, Macy's fear of pain and grief is still stronger than her desire for healing and an open relationship with her mom.
I watched my mother's face as she heard this, the way, despite her best efforts, she reacted to the various breaches of the conduct we'd long ago agreed on concerning my father and how he was mentioned. (6.87)
Is Macy talking about actual rules here, or are these the unspoken type of rules?
It can't be that easy, I thought, to get her to talk about this. (6.111)
Different people have different comfort levels when it comes to showing affection or talking about emotions. (Duh alert.) Sometimes it's the person you're trying to talk to that makes it hard—and sometimes, it's you. In this case, is it Macy or her mom? Or both?
He already knew my secrets, the things I'd kept hidden from everyone else, so I could just be myself. (10.19)
Why did Macy really open herself up to Wes? Why only him, after all this time? Was it because he saw her as someone other than the girl whose dad died? Or just because of the game they played? Because he had lost his mom? Because she's crushing on him? Would she have opened up like this to anyone else eventually, or is it something special about Wes?
I'd wanted to reach out to her, hold her close, tell her I was worried about her, but I couldn't do that either. (11.206)
How do you think Macy's mom would have responded to this? Is her mom coping by withholding affection, too? Or is that just her personality?
He was the one person I could count on, unequivocally, to say exactly what he meant, no hedging around. (12.60)
What about Kristy? And Caroline? Is this Macy's crush talking, or is Wes the only honest one in the whole book?
"There's so much I want to say to her, but I don't know how she'll react. So I just don't." (12.221)
Macy feels like, in order to stay in control, she has to know in advance what the outcome of any given situation will be. She's even applying it to her interactions with her mom in this case.
I don't talk to anybody about what's going on in my head, because I'm afraid they might not be able to take it. (12.237)
Macy's scared of driving people away by talking to them, so instead she drives them away so she won't have to talk to them? We're not sure about the logic here.
I already knew this was where they took people to tell them the really bad news: that their wait was over, their person was dead. In fact, I'd just watched another family make this progression, the ten or so steps and the turn of a corner, crossing over from hopeful to hopeless. (1.39)
Well, that's depressing. This passage recalls the moment that Macy found out for sure that her father had died. Do you think her loss of self happened right in that moment? Or was it a more gradual transformation.
This life was fleeting, and I was still searching for the way I wanted to spend it that would make me happy, full, okay again. (6.122)
All Macy wants is to change back to normal. Just one problem: she doesn't know how. At least that's what she says. Is it possible that she does know how, but just doesn't really want to yet?
A single corkscrew curl dropped down over my eyes and I stared at it, surprised, as it dangled in my field of vision, the smallest part of me transformed. (7.39)
Ah, symbolism. This one tiny piece of hair is curled—transformed—and sure enough, it's a harbinger of much bigger changes. Maybe that's why an outward change in appearance makes such a difference to Macy.
"See I told you," Kristy said form behind me, where she was standing smiling, proud of her handiwork, as I just stared, seeing the familiar in all these changes. How weird it was that so many bits and pieces, all diverse, could make something whole. Something with potential. "Perfect." (7.51)
We've heard that the clothes make the woman. That may be total nonsense, but in this situation, Macy's style makeover isn't all that different from her eventual identity makeover: it's all about combining the familiar with the new.
"It's the same thing," I told her.
"Being afraid and being alive."
"No, she said slowly, and now it was as if she was speaking a language she knew at first I wouldn't understand, the very words, not to mention the concept, being foreign to me. "Macy, no. It's not."
It's not, I repeated in my head, and looking back later, it seemed to me that this was the moment everything really changed. When I said these words, not even aloud, and in doing so made my own wish: that for me this could somehow, someday, really be true. (7.213-17)
This might just be the catalyst that started Kristy's whole emotional transformation. Kristy makes it pretty clear that life isn't all about being afraid. So what do you think: should Wes get most of the credit for helping Macy or should Kristy? Who first cracked her shell?
Too much time in a place like this could really do a person some damage. I mean, look what it's done to them
But I was thinking about what it had done to me. Being here miserable, day after day. (10.153-54)
Did the library make Kristy even worse off than she was before? Or did it push her to make a change because of how miserable it was?
"But then, once I did the heart-in-hand stuff, I got interested in how things moving made a piece look different, and how that changes the subject." (11.95)
Wes's artwork is full of transformation. Can we project that transformation onto Wes as a character? Or are we reading a little too much into it…?
Get changed, she said, which was ironic, because all I'd wanted to tell her was that I already had. (16.74)
Clothes seem to mean a lot to Macy and her mom, as far as identity goes. Maybe it's because they're an outward sign that everything's fine. If you can dress the part, you can be the part.
"And then, this summer, she finally finds some friends and something she likes to do. But then one tiny slipup, and you take it all away from her."
"That has nothing to do with what we're talking about," my mother said.
"It has everything to do with it," Caroline shot back. "She was finally getting over what happened. Couldn't you see the change in her? I could, and I was barely here. She was different." (18.72-74)
Macy's transformation was cut short for a while by her mom. Was Deborah justified in her actions? Is it possible that she saw Macy changing and didn't want to be left behind in the not-over-it dust?
But as I stood watching her, I realized how truly hard it was, really, to see someone you love change right before your eyes. Not only is it scary, it throws your balance off as well. This was how much mother felt, I realized, over the weeks I worked at Wish, as she began to not recognize me in small ways, day after day. (20.30)
This attitude shows a transformation in itself. From protective of her mom to angry to understanding. It might be scary to watch a loved one change, but it's the way of the world. And by the end of the book, it seems like all of the Queen ladies—Macy, Caroline, and Deborah—can understand that.
I'd long ago learned not to be picky in farewells. They weren't guaranteed or promised. (1.35)
Macy compares saying goodbye to Jason at the airport (and not getting a decent kiss) to not being able to say goodbye to her father. Is dating Jason prolonging the pain for her? Reminding her of her dad somehow?
When my dad died, we all reacted in different ways. (1.58)
Some healthy, some not so healthy, it seems. But is there a right or wrong way to react to death? If Macy had reacted differently, would she really be okay by now? Could she have reacted differently?
I knew she blamed herself for his death, thought that maybe it was the added stress of Wildflower Ridge that taxed my dad's heart, and if she hadn't pushed him to expand so much everything would have been different. This was our common ground, the secret we shared but never spoke aloud. I should have been with him; she should have left him alone. Should, could, woulda. It's so easy in the past tense. (2.20)
Macy and her mom both feel guilty about Macy's dad's death. Is it possible that the reason they're not trying to cope is to punish themselves?
I'd never really allowed myself to mourn, just jumped from shocked to fine-just-fine, skipping everything in between. (3.52)
Didn't Macy's mom think that was weird? That she never showed any sadness at all? Well, in case you hadn't notice, Macy's mom isn't coping too well herself.
More than our old house, or our Wildflower Ridge place, the beach shack was my dad. I knew if he was haunting any place, it would be there, and for that reason I'd stayed away. (3.85)
We're pretty sure Macy's not talking about ghosts here. (We mean, come on, her dad would totally be a Casper-type ghost if anything.) Instead, she's probably just trying to avoid the memories that come along with the beach house.
"You know what happens when someone dies? […] It's like, everything and everyone refracts, each person having a different reaction." (5.107)
Delia's trying to commiserate with Macy, but in Delia's family, the reactions to death were much more positive. Why do you think that was? What was different about their family?
Maybe that's what you got when you stood over our grief, facing it finally. A sense of its depths, its area, the distance across, and the way over or around it, whichever you chose in the end. (5.118)
Grief doesn't just go away. It will always be there, but you can work around it, like Delia does. Is that more fruitful than blocking it off completely, like Macy and her mom do? Is one way better than the other?
"Mom," she said final, "I'm not trying to upset you. I'm just saying that it's been a year and a half…and maybe it's time to move on. Dad would have wanted you to be happier than this. I know it." (6.91)
Another advice moment from Caroline. But is there really a time limit on mourning? What does Caroline mean by "move on," anyway?
"[T]he truth is, nothing is guaranteed. […] So don't be afraid. Be alive." (7.211)
Kristy's philosophy is majorly inspires Macy—and us. How does Macy embrace this nugget by the end of the book?
"I'm tired of acting like nothing ever happened, of pretending he was never here, of not seeing his pictures in the house, or his things. Just because you're not able to let yourself grieve." (18.66)
Let's talk about Caroline. Is she the most mature of the Queen ladies? Or does she just have a different grieving process? What is it about her character or her situation that allows her to let herself grieve?
"I don't understand it. Actually."
"Look," he said, picking up his pen again. "It's not as complicated as you think." […] He started flipping pages in his book, still talking, and pointed out a passage to me. Then he read it aloud, and as his finger moved across the words it was like he changed them, magic, and suddenly they made sense.
And I felt comfort. Finally. All I'd wanted for so long was for someone to explain everything that had happened to me in this same way. To label it neatly on a page: this leads to this leads to this. I knew, deep down, it was more complicated than that, but watching Jason, I was hopeful. (1.21, 24-25)
The kind of knowledge that Jason has about school-related book stuff is what Macy craves to help her figure out the rest of her life. But as she notes, that's just not how life word.
Bethany and Amanda seemed to be pooling their considerable IQs in a single-minded effort to completely demoralize me. (3.38)
Smarts without a conscience can be dangerous, don't you think? At least Jason has some kindness in him.
[T]o her trained ear, I'd mispronounced Albert Camus' name while directing a sullen summer school student to the French literature section. (3.39)
Once again, knowledge is used as a weapon by the library gals. Just because they can pronounce some French author's name, they think they're better than Macy.
Clearly, this had not been the moment to show off my grammar prowess. (4.110)
Macy tossed out some ellipses knowledge (you know, those three dots: …) and it stirred up a little conflict at the wedding. Oops. Moral of the story? Knowing things doesn't always help. Sometimes, feeling, empathizing, or understanding is more important.
But that was the problem with having the answers. It was only after you gave them that you realized they sometimes weren't what people wanted to hear. (4.115)
Sometimes, knowledge can actually hurt other people. Could this be why Caroline waited so long to start helping Macy and her mom move on? Did Wes give Macy any answers to her problems, or did he just listen?
Whatever way it had gone, clearly this break wasn't just my secret anymore. Now, it was Information, and as they were with everything else, Bethany and Amanda were suddenly experts. (5.23)
Bethany and Amanda sure know how to jump on the gossip train—and fast. These girls have plenty of knowledge, but they definitely aren't using it appropriately. But what would a YA novel be without a couple of mean girls?
"It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is." (5.92)
Oh, Delia. How does she know so much? And would you say she applies her nuggets of wisdom to the way she lives her own life?
"We both know life is short, Macy." (7.202)
Check out Kristy, young girl extraordinaire, doling out the wisdom. What about Kristy's life has allowed her to get so stinkin' deep?
"You said the other day life was long," I shot back. Which is it?"
"It's both," she said, shrugging. "It all depends on how you choose to live it. It's like forever, always changing."
"Nothing can be two opposite things at once," I said. "It's impossible."
"No," she replied, squeezing my hand, "what's impossible is that we actually think it could be anything other than that." (7.203-206)
In Shmoop's humble opinion, logic doesn't help when the heart is concerned.
I should have been with him; she should have left him alone. Should, coulda, woulda. It's so easy in the past tense.
But here in the present, my mother and I had no choice but to move ahead. (2.21)
But they did have a choice, right? Couldn't they have mourned like everyone else? Like Caroline? Or was moving ahead their way of mourning? And what is it about Caroline that makes her different from the rest of the Queen gang in her coping mechanisms?
It was the best thing we had in common, the one part of him that was all mine. (3.8)
Macy's talking about running here. She and her dad had a major bond through their passion for running—and that's probably why it's so hard for her to return to it. Too many memories can be a tough thing to face.
I knew my mother thought of me as the good daughter, the one she could depend on to be as driven and focused as she was. (5.13)
Macy and her mom have plenty of issues—that's no secret. But this mother-daughter duo has a bond that we can't write off. Other than being driven and focused, what do Macy and Deborah have in common?
This reaching out to my mom was another thing I'd been working up to, never quite getting the nerve, but she made it look simple. (6.113)
The problem is that Deborah reacts differently when Caroline reaches out than she does when Macy reaches out. Why do you think that is? hey don't have a better relationship, do they? They fought for years, after all. Could it be because they're more honest with each other?
"When my dad died, it was like everything felt really shaky, you know?" (10.103)
Things got rough when Macy's dad died, so she and her mom banded together to make a solid ground to stand on. But now it's taking over—it's too solid. What would the alternative be, though? An earthquake?
Of course she'd think I could tell her anything: she was my mother. In truth, though, I couldn't. (11.206)
Mother-daughter relationships are tough. On the one hand, if you have a good relationship, you're probably closer to your mom than anyone else in the world. On the other hand, there are certain things you feel like she just might not understand.
"But just talking about anything emotional is hard for her. For us. It's like she prefers we just not do that anymore." (12.234)
Deborah is trying to keep it together for her own sake and for Macy's. But why does she think this is best for her daughter to keep everything under wraps?
Everyone else could get through to my mother: all they had to do was dial a number and wait for her to pick up. If only, I thought, it was that easy for me. (14.27)
Sometimes strangers get more kindness from us than family members, don't they? It's easy to take family for granted, but Macy knows that they won't always be around.
"And this job would look good on my transcript."
"And," I finished, "it fits right in with what she wants me to be."
I ran the fabric of my shirt between my thumb and forefinger, remembering our conversation that morning, as well as the one the night before. "Perfect," I said.
"And mothers, of all people, are the least likely to care about such things." (15.50-56)
Is Delia right? Or does Deborah really want Macy to be perfect? Which of Deborah's actions make you answer the way you do?
"I'm serious." She stretched her feet out in front of her, smoothing her hands over her belly. "I know something about this, okay? All I care about for Lucy, and Wes and Bert, is that they be happy. Healthy. And good people, you know? I'm not perfect, not by a long shot. So why would I expect them to be?" "My mom's not like that." (15.58-59)
Macy's mom definitely isn't not as openly loving as Delia, but she does love Macy in her own way. Do you think Macy's being too hard on her mom, or is she reacting in the way any daughter would in this situation?
We parted our hair cleanly and stood up straight, greeting company—and the world—with the smiles we practiced in the quiet of our now-too-big house full of mirrors that showed the smiles back. But under it all, our grief remained. (2.21)
Usually, smiles don't have to be practiced. This is how we know things are really bad. P.S. Total aside: studies show—even when you don't want to—can make you happier. Give it a shot, Shmoopers.
The fireflies were probably already out; maybe it wasn't just a season or a time but a whole world I'd forgotten. I'd never know until I stepped out into it. So I did. (5.45)
Poor Macy has cut herself off from so much—even nature and the outside world. Why is that? Does nature remind her of her dad? Or of being happy? Or is it because she can't control nature? So many possibilities…
In so many ways, I was realizing, the info desk was a lot like my life had been before Wish and Kristy and Wes. Something to be endured, never enjoyed. (10.154)
In so many ways, I was realizing, the info desk was a lot like my life had been before Wish and Kristy and Wes. Something to be endured, never enjoyed. (10.154)
"Dad would have wanted you to be happier than this." (6.91)
Caroline's really pulling out the big guns here. Do you think Deborah ever considered this? Is this a big "aha" moment for her?
Delia had convinced me that my mother only wanted me to be happy. It was up to me to show her that I was now, and why. (16.53)
Will Macy ever be completely happy if her mom is still stuck in her perfect act?
"Happy," Caroline finished for her. "She was starting to live her life again, and it scared you." (18.75-76)
Caroline doesn't hold back in her conversations with her mom. Big Sis saw that Macy was happy, and thinks that Deborah was scared to be left behind. Do you agree?
For the first time, it seemed to me that she was actually enjoying herself. (21.5)
Poor Deborah. She's been going through just as much as Macy, if not more. So is it the day of total chaos that saves her? What is it about the event that allows her to enjoy herself?
The one that began in this moment, with Wes, in a kiss that took my breath away, then gave it back—leaving me astounded, amazed, and most of all, alive. (21.90)
Here Macy is, taking Kristy's advice to be alive. Let's be honest, though. This is a kiss with a guy she's totally crushing on. Is it real happiness or just the fulfillment of an infatuation? What do you think?
I just smiled, sliding the screen door open. "Sounds great," I said. "Just great." (22.9)
Great-just-great (said genuinely) is quite a difference from fine-just-fine. Finally, Macy is smiling for her family, instead of for the mirror. True happiness, indeed.