Abby Leaves Travis, Travis Really Likes Spicy Mustard: Walking Disaster Chapter 21

Have you been enjoying our new Matthew Watches The Room feature? Interestingly enough, I’ll be visiting friends in DC this weekend and this Saturday night we’re going to a midnight showing of The Room at E Street Cinema. If you live in the area and our The Room feature has made you interested in seeing this movie or going to a midnight showing, you should totally go do that! Find this person and come say hi!

Reminder, I look sort of like this.
Note I will likely not be carrying this book.

Jamie McGuire continues her streak of overdramatic chapter titles. [Ariel says: Interestingly enough, I think my next chapter title is “No, Thanks.” I guess she couldn’t even carry on with a theme when it comes to chapter titles let alone a whole book.] 

Chapter 21: Slow Death

We saw in Beautiful Disaster that, from Abby’s perspective, Travis’s underground mob fight to save her father’s life doesn’t merit more than a sentence after the fact. We have no such luck from Travis’s perspective.

“Hey,” Shepley said, smacking my cheek. “Hey! You have Brock McMann waiting for you. Your head needs to be in this one hundred percent. […]”
I nodded, trying to remember the few times I’d seen Brock fight.

Please do, Travis, because McGuire has never mentioned this character you apparently know so much about. [Ariel says: To be fair, if she had mentioned this guy earlier it would have read as awful foreshadowing or we would have just been like, “Why the fuck is she wasting our time talking about this dude?] 

Travis recounts how Brock is an aggressive fighter who’s been banned from the UFC. But don’t worry about Travis! He’s the best fighter in the world because – suspend your disbelief with me once more, with feeling! – he fought with his brothers when they were kids!

I figured he’d probably been training for this fight for weeks if not months.
That was okay. I’d been beat up by my brothers my whole life.

friends rachel sure

There’s some drama about how Travis goes out and doesn’t see Abby at first, but she shows up. It’s totally necessary. Travis trash talks Brock a little bit:

“I just want to let you know I’m a big fan, even though you’re kind of a prick and a cheat.”

Such a big fan we’ve never heard about it until just now when it came up, like with his admiration of professional gambler Mick Abernathy and professional haberdasher Philbert Bartholomew Cummingsworth II. We haven’t heard about him yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear all about how Travis was always a huge, huge fan the second his character shows up out of nowhere.

Strangely, the fight is almost interesting if you’re on board with our “Travis has an undiagnosed mental disorder” reading:

I felt right at home trading punches with Brock; in that moment, my rage had a purpose and a place. […] I felt no pain, only the sheer pleasure of unleashing every negative emotion that had weighed me down for so long. I remembered how relaxing it felt to beat the hell out of Benny’s men. Win or lose, I looked forward to what kind of person I would be after this fight.

Here’s a fun experiment you can try at home! Show that passage to one of your friends and ask them to guess what genre the book falls under. They might go with “psychological thriller”, and then see the look on their faces when you tell them it’s from a New York Times Bestseller romance novel!

Travis wins the fight. Benny, pleased with Travis’s performance, makes him an offer: keep fighting for him for a year, one fight per month, $150,000 per fight.

“I’m still in college.”


He shrugged. “We’ll schedule around it. I’ll fly you out, and Abby if you wish, first class, on weekends, if that’s what you want.” […]

[Ariel says: I love how accommodating Benny is. Obviously I don’t buy it, but I love that he’s like, “Grades come first, Trav!”] Travis tells Benny he’ll think about it, because now that the issue of his college schedule is settled, he still has to work on that number two priority of seeing how his girlfriend feels about it

Haha, just kidding! Travis is a self-centered dickfuck!

“I wanna do this. I want to fight in Vegas.”
“No,” she said […]
“You’re not listening. I’m gonna do it. You’ll see in a few months that it was the right decision.”
She looked up at me. “You’re going to work for Benny.” […] “Why did you even ask me, Travis? You were going to work for Benny no matter what I said.”
“I want your support on this, but it’s too much money to turn down. I would be crazy to say no.”

It's a good thing I started binge-watching Girls yesterday so I have all these great gifs about self-centered characters.
It’s a good thing I started binge-watching Girls yesterday so I have all these great gifs about self-centered characters.

I nodded nervously and then smiled. “I just wanna take care of you, Pidge.”

Since when has this ever been an issue in this book? If anything, these college kids all have suspiciously too much money. This character motivation comes out of nowhere. Again. Like always. Characters are never doing anything consistently in this book, because Walking Disaster has the same degree of consistency as Twitch Plays Pokemon.

Matthew makes another internet culture reference that will definitely become dated very quickly.
Hey, look! A current internet culture reference!

She paused for a long time, her shoulders fell, and then nodded. “Okay, then. You’ve made your decision.”


“You’ll see, Pigeon. It’s going to be great. […] I’m starved. You hungry?”
She shook her head. […]
My lips hummed a chipper tune from a random song while I grabbed two slices of bread and some salami and cheese. Man, she’s missing out, I thought, squeezing spicy mustard onto the bread slices.

Remember my “maybe Travis is an undiagnosed autistic” theory from a few chapters back? It’s moments like this where Travis is having such trouble picking up on social cues that I wonder if in a different, more interesting, potentially even more sensitive book, Travis is just on the spectrum instead of self-centered. Not that this book seems to even realize he’s self-centered anyway, so who knows? I’m not an expert (and autism wouldn’t explain why he’s, say, a dickbucket), but it’s worth pointing out that Travis has more in common with autism symptoms than he does with… Abby…

[Ariel says: If that was the intention in this book it would be way more interesting. Instead, I’ve seen tons of reviews on Goodreads where readers are like, “Oh my God I literally did not want to leave Travis’ head once I was inside it. It broke my heart, omg, he is like so amazing!!111!!” You read scenes like this, and you just have to wonder if maybe a lot of people out there just like salami, cheese and spicy mustard so much that they’ll forgive a shitty book for being shitty as long as these things are mentioned. Otherwise I have no reasonable explanation for their devotion.] 

Travis eats his sandwich and realizes Abby has packed and is leaving, explaining that she has a lot of laundry to do. [Ariel says: Abby’s awful excuses never get old.] He finally realizes something is up, because it’s only when she threatens to not be with him 24/7 that he pays any regard to her feelings. So when Travis finally figures out that Abby is not on Team Underground Fights For The Mob, he 1) chases after them on his motorcycle, 2) tricks someone into letting him into the girl’s dorm, and 3) forcing his way past Kara into Abby and Kara’s room.

“She’s not here.”
“She’s here,” I said, quickly losing my patience. […]
“She’s not… Hey!” Kara said, shrieking when I shouldered past her.

Abby can never leave Travis because he will always stalk her and try to find her against her will! Aww! This is what we have placed romantic value on as a culture!

Don’t worry, though. Travis starts texting Abby and things get hilarious again. I can’t even pick a best one. They’re hysterical.

  • Pidge, please. i know ur pissed, but we can still talk about this
  • Please come home.
  • Please? i love you.
  • im @ Morgan would u @ least call me to let me know if ur coming home 2nite?
  • Pigeon I’m so fuckin sorry. Please come home. I need 2 c u.
  • U know im not the 1 being unreasonable here. U could @ least answer me.
  • i dont fucking deserve this ok so im an asshat 4 thinkingi could solve all our problems with money but @least i don’t run away every time we have 1
  • im sorry i didn’t mean that
  • what do u want me 2 do? i will do whatever u want me 2 ok? just please talk to me.
  • this is bullshit
  • im in love with u. i don’t understand how u can just walk away

[Ariel says: Did Jamie McGuire write these with the Cast family?]

Shepley and America try to make Travis see that this time he fucked up too badly. Travis angrily tells them to leave him alone. He goes to a class he shares with Abby and it becomes clear Abby isn’t showing up (which goes back to my “no, seriously, Abby has to leave and literally abandon her life to get away from this crazy person” point about why it’s absurd that this book passes itself off as romance).

I stood and stared at Abby’s empty desk.
“Er… Mr. Maddox? Are you feeling well?” Mr. Chaney asked.
I kicked over her desk and then mine […]
“GOD DAMMIT!” I screamed, kicking my desk again.

Travis gets thrown out of lecture, and because introducing just one character out of the blue wasn’t enough for this chapter, McGuire gives us our first appearance of Megan, who you may remember as the first girl Travis slept with. “May remember”, because she’s been mentioned, like, once before in passing. Naturally, in true Jamie McGuire-style, she shows up here and behaves as though we have way more context than we’ve actually been given.

She shrugged, and then took a step closer, whispering in my ear so close her full lips brushed against my ear. “We’re the same, Travis: not good for anybody.” […] She leaned in with her trademark small, sexy smile.
“Fuck off, Megan.”
Her smile vanished, and I walked away.

Why would we know this about Megan? [Ariel says: Even if you’re meant to remember her from Beautiful Disaster she’s mentioned like twice.] Does Megan want to get together with Travis? I thought Megan slept with Travis and ditched him, introducing him to his love-them-and-leave-them lifestyle? Why would she act like she’s always wanted to get back together with him all of a sudden? Why would we need to know that a character we’ve never seen before is just like Travis to tell us information about him we already know because this character we don’t know is also like that? This would be like if in Harry Potter, a character never-before-mentioned named Walter Raggamuffin walked up to Harry and said, “We’re the same, Harry. Constantly under pressure and uncertain what to do.” This would be like if in Star Wars, a character never-before-mentioned named Roy Medichlorian walked up to Luke and said, “We’re the same, Luke. Not satisfied with our lot in life and trying to find our destiny.” This would be like if in The Godfather, a character never-before-mentioned named Don Cannoli [Ariel says: He sounds delicious and magnificent] walked up to Michael Corleone and said, “We’re the same, Michael. Too good to be trapped in the Mafia, but the only one competent enough to keep it from falling into ruin.” Is any of this information wrong? No. Do we need a character we’ve never seen before to tell us something we already know by virtue of also being that way? No! Let’s replace Megan with Philbert Bartholomew Cummingsworth II, my fictional habberdasher from earlier in this post, and see if it changes anything the scene accomplishes:

He shrugged, and then took a step closer, whispering in my ear so close his full lips brushed against my ear. “We’re the same, Travis: not good for anybody.” […] He leaned in with his trademark small, sexy smile.
“Fuck off, Philbert.”
His smile vanished, and I walked away.

Aside from some inexplicable sexual tension between two characters that it doesn’t make sense for, this scene does the exact same thing with a character I just made up on the spot, because the character it does feature was just made up on the spot. And that’s not really a problem for this book, because it’s already full of inexplicable sexual tension between two characters that it doesn’t make sense for. [Ariel says: I’d make a joke, but I’m too busy crying with laughter over the re-writing of that scene.]



  1. Madeline Reply

    I’m legitimately curious on how Kara got Travis out of her dorm. Did he just leave without a word or was he his usual dick self to her before leaving. I just care about Kara move then anyone else in this book combined (except maybe plot puppy).

    • Beatriz Reply

      I’m also only concerned about Kara. Hopefully now she’ll move out of Abby’s dorm and be safer. But then again, I’ll be sad if we never see her again

    • Vivienne Reply

      There completely needs to be a book from Kara’s point of view. I want to be sure she is safe.

      • 22aer22 Reply

        I also want to know that she finds love with a flawed but ultimately good person. I also want this person to be able to sympathize with Kara about all that Trabby has put her through.

  2. Kate Reply

    From McGuire’s website: “(Maddox Bros #1): July 1, 2014. The first of four novels chronicling the exciting, romantic, and sometimes volatile road to love for the Maddox brothers, this as yet untitled novel for Trent Maddox, brother # 3, is told from the point-of-view of Travis Maddox’s favorite bartender, Cami.” This will never stop being hilarious to me, because McGuire has written a character who was beaten by his brothers so often throughout his childhood that he can now easily win a fight against an infamous professional fighter, yet she’s now going to try to turn all of his physically abusive older siblings into romantic leads, too. How delightful.

    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      wait wait wait wait wait she’s going to write spin-offs?!?!?! about characters that are barely in the story and don’t even have any character?

      • Kate Reply

        Yepppp. Four of ’em. And we’ve already all made jokes about how interchangeable their names are, but seriously, I have no idea how anyone can be expected to remember which one is which. The first one is about Trent, but that name means nothing to me.

      • 22aer22 Reply

        We haven’t yet laughed enough over the fact that it’s told from the point of view of Travis’ favorite bartender who was mentioned maybe like once? Is she meant to be the one who the brother falls in love with? Why the fuck would we want to read about any of these people??

        Except we will totally write about all of them here at the blog because McGuire’s writing is so much fun to make fun of.

    • future venusian Reply

      McGuire is just going to ride this money train all the way to the bank, isn’t she?

    • Madeline Reply

      And it’s called Beautiful Oblivion, I’m dying of laughter. You absolutely have to read it these books are too fucking perfect for this blog. Btw, is Cami “Baby Doll” that called Travis an asshole a few chapters back? I’m asking because we LITERALLY have heard nothing about this character. And really McGuire? Making a character that has been established as an abusive prick to this main character a romantic lead? Fucking incredible.

  3. travesaou Reply

    You all have me laughing like a maniac at….half past two in the morning over this awkward sexual tension between Travis and Philbert (who manages to be a more interesting character than Travis in just a few lines), while craving salami and cheese sandwiches and actually feeling a bit uneasy over how familiar those texts Travis sent Abby are to ones a particular young man sent me years ago. Thank God I dodged that court case waiting to happen! Ahhhh. Good times, good times. Breaks over! 🙁

  4. A Reply

    I was really confused not knowing that they had left Las Vegas (but how did that flight home go? Did he wait until they got back to tell her about the offer?), so I was like, “Dude, your hotel room just has sandwich meat lying around?? Vegas is crazier than I thought!”

  5. scummy48 Reply

    I am actually laughing so hard at the “what if other books were written this way”. I’m just imagining a scene in Harry Potter where Harry is in the middle of a crisis and some random kid just comes in saying they are the same, and Harry just walks away. I cannot stop laughing.

    Also have these authors ever seen teens text? Ever? Those are ridiculous, and scary. It also just seems incredibly weird since Abby never officially broke up with him, right? Like I get that she was too scared to (and yet this is a romance. being too scared to tell your boyfriend that you want to break up or to go to the classes you have with him or to be in your dorm because you know he’ll break in. This is what thousands of readers see as desirable qualities of love). But if someone i was dating didnt talk to me for a few days, my first thought wouldnt be that they broke up with me. Just that they was upset and needed time.

    And poor Kara. My heart is seriously breaking for this girl.

    • joy bird Reply

      Argh! That was meant to be an upvote, but I’m commenting with a broken thumb. Yay upvote! Fake downvote.

  6. E.H.Taylor Reply

    I’m really excited by all of this experiment talk. I’m going to run one of my own to see if maybe it’s the fact that it’s placed under the romance genre that has people reading this and viewing it as a relationship they want instead of one that would be considered extremely abusive in real life.

    I’ll take some passages that we think are filled with red flags and that others have considered ‘cute moments’ and I’ll give the list out in one of three ways:
    – This is a romance about a couple in love! What do you think?
    – This is a psychological thriller about an obsessed/controlling stalker. What do you think?
    – What do you think of this? What genre would you place it in? (Gotta have a control group after all!).

    Or even better, have someone read it as a romance/thriller, get their thoughts, and then tell them it’s actually a thriller/romance and have them read it again to see if their opinions have changed.

    This could be really interesting. I mean, everything looks different with context and what is genre if not a label that gives context to a story?

    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      oh my goodness I like telling them the thriller genre to see if they believe it so much. I actually really want to do this experiment on a large scale but it would be kind of a giveaway if we did it on this blog

  7. future venusian Reply

    There’s a review on Goodreads that claims that Travis actually has borderline personality disorder. If this book had been written that way, by a much better writer, it might have been pretty decent. As it is, it’s just stupid. I really have to wonder what the hell McGuire was thinking when she wrote this.

  8. Kehdece Reply

    Oh man… I like this theory about Travis having autism.
    I mean autism is pretty broad and has many degrees and intensity of the disorder, but just look at these symptoms:
    – prone to over the top outbursts when things aren’t going the way he pictures them.
    – cannot empathize or understand what another person is feeling
    – possessive of people he’s close to
    – can only imagine how things will affect his life

    I mean, granted some of those are just the deacriptions of selfish people, but in the paragraph where he’s making a sandwich and cannot understand what Abby is feeling, is a pretty big red flag.

  9. Pingback: Everyone Hits Travis In The Face, This Is A Good One: Walking Disaster Chapter 24 | Bad Books, Good Times

  10. Pingback: Meet the New Gang that is Actually the Old Gang With New Names: Beautiful Oblivion Chapter 1 | Bad Books, Good Times

Leave a Reply