When we last left Trabby, they were seemingly about to have a conversation about their feelings. It seemed pretty unavoidable that they would finally stop speaking in dramatic half-thoughts and answer the question “What are we doing.” [Matthew says: Almost sleeping together seems like a pretty okay catalyst for this sort of thing.]
Chapter 7: Nineteen
So how can a cliffhanger that is poised to get these two characters talking manage to completely avoid this conversation?
Well, Jamie McGuire continues to display an incredible amount of consistency by finding a way to keep the feelings between Abby and Travis muddled, unspoken, and breathtakingly stupid.
“Abby?” Shepley said, knocking on the door. “Mare was going to run some errands; she wanted me to let you know in case you needed to go.”
Travis hadn’t taken his eyes from mine. “Pidge?”
“Yeah,” I called to Shepley. “I have some stuff I need to take care of.”
“All right, she’s ready to go when you are ,” Shepley said, his footsteps disappearing down the hall.
I pulled a few things from the closet and slid past him. “Can we talk about this later? I have a lot to do today.”
Abby must be really fucking busy if that’s her excuse to postpone this conversation. She better be saving the world with Captain America or something more than buying new shoes with regular America. [Matthew says: This seems like something House of Night’s Zoey would say. Maybe she’s buying some cool new Steve Madden flats! That would be a way more pressing matter than talking to your best friend you almost just slept with.]
In the bathroom, Abby actually has some inner thoughts! I’m as shocked as you are. I’m less shocked by the fact that her priorities are not only out of order, but also really terrible priorities to begin with.
It was a relief to escape to the bathroom. I quickly closed the door behind me. Two weeks left in the apartment and no way to put off the conversation —at least, not for that long. The logical part of my brain insisted that Parker was my type: attractive, smart, and interested in me. Why I bothered with Travis was something I would never understand.
Whatever the reason, it was making us both insane. I had been divided into two separate people: the docile, polite person I was with Parker, and the angry, confused, frustrated person I turned into around Travis. The entire school had witnessed Travis going from unpredictable before to damn near volatile now.
Let’s look at the second paragraph first where she talks about the two people she becomes when she’s with these guys. Neither of these two people are actually the real Abby, it seems. Actually, both of these sides of her personality sound pretty bad. One guy makes her dull, the other guy makes her insane.
Now wait, let’s go back to the first paragraph. She still doesn’t tell us how she feels about Travis. At this point, when I first read the book, I thought she wasn’t all that interested in him and he was putting her off by pushing her. “Why I bothered with Travis” isn’t exactly the most clear of statements. It also sounds like she doesn’t even want to have this conversation with him at all! But apparently this is all because she actually has super a lot of feelings for him? I’m really not buying it.
Oh, yeah, and she’s still worried about what other people at school think. It’s not about how Travis is feeling or acting but that the “entire school” has witnessed it.
Things don’t get clearer when America tries to talk to Abby about the situation.
“You have feelings for Travis, don’t you?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know how I feel about him. I just don’t see it happening, Mare. He’s too much of a bad thing.”
“Neither one of you will just come out and say it, that’s the problem. You’re both so scared of what might happen that you’re fighting it tooth and nail. I know for a fact that if you looked Travis in the eye and told him you wanted him, he would never look at another woman again.”
I guess we’re not supposed to believe Abby here, and from what America says we’re supposed to assume that Abby’s holding back because of…Travis and other women? Just reading the scene, though, it seems like America is kind of just not listening to the fact that Abby is kind of hinting that she’s not interested in him. Nowhere has she told us or America that she’s super into Travis but worried about X, Y, and Z.
[Matthew says: Actually, I think America’s last sentence is maybe the only time someone has been insightful in this entire damn book. Whether Abby likes, isn’t sure if she likes, or doesn’t like Travis, all she’s really doing is going “LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALA” to her situation, which is a really lame way to draw out a narrative that should have concluded already. Let’s pretend Harry Potter was written this way, with the main character constantly ignoring his problems:
“Harry!” Ron said. “Hermione’s been petrified!”
“Uh, I need to go wizard shopping.” Harry replied. “I have a lot to do today.”
To be fair, this would be hilarious. But Beautiful Disaster wants us to take it seriously. And it’s hard to give a shit about someone ignoring their problems this obtusely.
“Harry!” Ron said. “Now my sister’s been kidnapped and taken to the Chamber of Secrets!”
“Can we talk about this later?” Harry asked.
“My sister is being tortured by a snake and a ghost, Harry. This seems kind of pressing.”
“Nope, we got another five books to write so let’s just keep ignoring this problem and not doing anything about it.”
And that’s more or less what reading Beautiful Disaster is like.]
Turns out, America was taking Abby shopping so she’d look cute for her surprise birthday party, which was moved to today! There, Abby is informed that she gets twenty bucks for every shot she takes. The football team thinks she’s a lightweight, but little do they know that she’s a tank. [Matthew says: Whaaaaat? A GIRL? With a high alcohol tolerance? Bullshit! I don’t believe you, BOOK.] This scene is actually more fun to read than the majority of this book.
No, wait, this is the most fun part of the book to read:
I shook my head and hugged [Travis], laying my head on his shoulder. He tightened his grip, and buried his face in my neck, making me forget about decisions or bracelets or my separate personalities; I was exactly where I wanted to be.
When the music changed to a faster beat, the door opened.
“Parker!” I said, running over to hug him. “You made it!”
I was exactly where I wanted to be…until someone better came along! It’s funny every time I read it. It could only get better if she was jokingly dipping Travis and then dropped him on the floor when Blando showed up. [Matthew says: Also, can we focus on how Travis makes her forget about “bracelets”, which is clearly at the same tier of problems as dissociative identity disorder.]
Blando acts boring, uptight, and judgmental, can’t dance for shit, makes out with Abby, leaves. Exactly what you’d expect from good old Blando.
Abby gets black out by her 19th shot (no shit) and Travis tells her it’s so sexy that she can out-drink the guys and that she’s completely wasted. The sad thing is that this is the most realistic thing about the book. I always found it bizarre when guys would compliment me/hit on me if I chased a shot with beer or something like that. No! Listen to my witty jokes about the music or my sarcastic comments about other people in the room. Ug, society.