Not even kidding.
[Ariel says: In blog news, I made a Google+ account for us. I think that’s a thing people sometimes use. What I do know is that it’s another way to follow us and tell Google that you like us! Add us here! ZOMG you could even add me to your circles. I’m easy to spot as I’m the only one following us as of right now.]
Chapter 18: Lucky Thirteen
Travis brings Abby to his family’s home for poker night. There are a lot of curious things about this chapter, like:
- Why Travis would bring Abby to family poker night if he’s under the impression Abby doesn’t know how to play poker, or wouldn’t at least teach her a bit beforehand
- Why Travis has four older and younger brothers who all live at home. [Ariel says: No, no they don’t live at home! One was in town visiting, so they all went to the dad’s place to play some poker. Male bonding! Masculinity! Nachos!!] [Matthew adds: Why is that a detail from your book from Abby’s perspective and not mine from Travis’s?]
- What the next half of this book could possibly be about now that Travis and Abby are together.
Anyway, this is the “meet the family” chapter, where Abby meets Travis’s dad and four brothers. Which means we meet another four Travises.
“Really nice,” Trenton said, his eyes roving over [Abby].
Travis introduces his brothers, who all have two syllable names starting with the letter “T” for some reason.
“Trenton, Taylor, Tyler, and Thomas.”
Travis introduces his ladypiece.
“Pidge, this is my dad, Jim Maddox. Dad, this is Pigeon.”
“Pigeon?” Jim asked, an amused expression on his face.
I’m seriously starting to question if Travis has some sort of mental disability. Who introduces someone with their nickname? Who introduces their girlfriend to their immediate family with a nickname that isn’t even remotely close to their name? This is perplexing beyond Travis’s usual manchild behavior. Honestly, I kinda think Travis might be autistic. Let’s take a look at the WebMD symptoms:
- Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow. (The womanizing totally makes sense here!)
- Failure to establish friendships with children the same age. (This could explain why he’s always eating lunch at a table of people who don’t seem to like each other!)
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. (Surely I don’t even need to explain this one, but let’s just say I think I got this in the bag.)
[Update: Not that I’m trying to suggest that Travis is an asshole because he might be on the autism spectrum. That’s really not what I’m trying to say. But I am intrigued that it kind of makes more sense as an explanation for his behavior than the “because he misinterpreted his dying mother’s final wishes as a child” explanation we actually got.]
Anyway, remember how my third bullet point was about how we’re halfway through this book and have already resolved our conflict, so what could the rest of this book possibly be about? Jamie McGuire starts planting the half-assed seeds now.
“You knew Stu Unger?” Abby asked, pointing to a dusty photo.
I couldn’t believe my ears.
Dad’s eyes brightened. “You know who Stu Unger is?”
Abby nodded. “My dad’s a fan, too.” […]
Abby was stunningly gorgeous, but knowing Stu Unger by name already made her a huge hit with my family. [Ariel says: For a guy who never wants anyone else to notice how sexy his lady is, Travis sure does seem to want other people to notice how sexy she is.]
I’m going to save the surprise for the next chapter (because even for the crap we read on this blog, it is gold), but just take note, because this thing that randomly shows up 55% of the way into the book is actually going to become a major plot point suddenly and with only the details in this chapter to prepare us for it.
They sit down to play poker. Abby pulls out two fifties, because these are some fucking loaded college students who are apparently gambling in hundred-dollar games of poker with their significant others’ immediate families. [Ariel says: At one point McGuire tries to explain this by saying that it’s all from Travis’ fights (he gets money for fighting, Abby from betting that he’ll win), which he supposedly stopped participating in five minutes after he met Abby. It makes no sense!] Abby explains that it’s been a while since she’s played poker, so Travis explains how to play poker.
“You’re shooting for higher cards, consecutive numbers, and, if you’re really lucky, in the same suit.”
Well, that explains everything about how to play poker.
They lose the first few rounds, but then Abby “picks it up quickly” and suddenly starts winning. Thomas – you know how Thomas is such a keen observer – deduces that this is not only not Abby’s first time playing poker, but she is very, very good at poker. I would talk about how this wasn’t even remotely a surprise, but that’s mostly just because the fact that poker is suddenly a major plot point in this book is such a surprise in the first place.
Detective Thomas figures out even more of the increasingly-absurd plot.
“What did you say your last name was?” Thomas asked.
Abby shifted nervously but didn’t answer. […]
“It’s Abernathy. What of it?”
“I can see why you didn’t put it together before tonight, Trav, but now you don’t have an excuse,” Thomas said, smug. […] “Are you related to Mick Abernathy by any chance?”
See, if you spend the entire novel building up Abby’s secret past, maybe foreshadow it a little bit? Poker has never been mentioned before this point. [Ariel says: So far the biggest foreshadowing is that she dated a guy whose name sounded like Poker.] Mick Abernathy – a poker player Travis apparently idolizes – has never been mentioned before this point.
“He’s my father,” she said. It looked almost painful for her to answer.
The entire room exploded.
“NO FUCKING WAY!” […]
“WE JUST PLAYED MICK ABERNATHY’S DAUGHTER!” […]
“You’re Lucky Thirteen?” I asked, dumbfounded.
Trenton stood and pointed. “Lucky Thirteen is in our house! No way! I don’t fucking believe it!”
Lucky Thirteen has never been mentioned before this point.
Now, sure, it’d be kind of obvious if they mentioned “Mick Abernathy” previously, since he shares Abby’s last name, but it’s fucking inexcusable that there hasn’t been a single mention of a person named “Lucky Thirteen” before this point. This plot twist carries zero weight, because none of this means anything to a reader who hasn’t heard of any of these things before. Abby might as well have revealed that she’s the real identity of the Black Phantom, the super-villain we haven’t heard of before this point but who’s been spreading terror across the city with her super-speed and heat vision. [Ariel says: Matt, don’t spoil the end of the book!]
This random, completely-without-any-context reveal leads to some other random, completely-without-any-context lines of dialogue.
“You were raised by mobsters!” Trent said, smiling with excitement. [Ariel says: OMG you guys, but wait until the mobsters show up. IT IS AMAZING.]
That line was stuck in the middle of a discussion of how Mick Abernathy was a famous poker player whose luck famously ran out on his daughter’s thirteenth birthday, when she suddenly became a successful, famous poker player. Somehow. [Ariel says: It was a weird version of hitting puberty, I guess. Instead of getting her period, she became a successful poker player.]
Travis and Abby go back to Travis’s apartment where they try to make this plot twist seem legitimate.
I sighed. […] “You should have told me. But I understand why you didn’t. You came here to get away from all o that. It’s like the sky opened up. Everything makes sense, now.”
Well, that makes one of us.
“My father hated me after that. He still blames me for all his problems. […] I’m not Mick Abernathy’s daughter, Travis! That’s what I left behind. I’m Abby. Just Abby!”
This would have been a great opportunity for her to say something about how Travis keeps calling her “Pigeon”. [Ariel says: Or for her to point out that earlier that very night he praised her for treating him like a normal person, and here he is doing the very thing he would have hated himself.]
Travis assures Abby he’ll keep her secret safe and he doesn’t care about where she’s from or who she was, but who she is now.
Which is actually sweet. Suddenly, Jamie McGuire remembers the other subplots she’s left hanging, and Travis gets a text from Brazil about Parker.
Dude. Parker’s talkin smack.
Yes, of course it’s spelled in “text lingo”. [Ariel says: quick reader poll:
Sd just now that she told him the other day she was really unhappy but u were kinda crazy and she was worried about when to do it.
Why is he using punctuation and spelling out “and”, but abbreviating “said”? [Ariel says: I’m glad you clarified, Matt. I was about to message you and ask if you’d copied a line wrong. Do people really abbreviate said that way?]
Travis and Brazil decide not to give a shit about it because nobody likes or believes Parker. Travis tells Shepley about it in the morning, and they deduce that Parker was probably trying to incite Travis. [Ariel says: Woah. Where’d they get that crazy idea from?]
Shepley nodded. “Let’s face it. The old you would have gone into a jealous rage and scared her right into Parker’s arms.”
The Parker plot will be 100% resolved in the next chapter. Because I guess we have the poker plot now all of a sudden halfway through the novel without any foreshadowing or previous discussion of poker. [Ariel says: McGuire wanted a change in plot without having to change the spelling of the plot point very much. Like I said before, it’s just a little to convenient that Parker morphs so easily into poker.]
Just in case this chapter didn’t take the rest of the book in an awful enough direction, Travis also goes to the jewelry store to buy an engagement ring, even though he and Abby have been dating for maybe a day.
“It’s going to happen, Shep. I just want to have it. For when the time is right.” […]
Shepley’s mouth pulled to the side. (What) “Just when I think you can’t get any more insane, you do something else to remind me that you are far beyond bat shit crazy.”
“Wait until you see the rock I’m getting.”
Which brings us right back to “Maybe Travis is mentally challenged”. Just saying. [Ariel adds: It also brings us back to how much money these college students are supposed to have. You know, from Travis’ fights that never happen anymore.]