Trabby broke up, and Travis had a terrifying meltdown. A meltdown I’m sure some fans of the book would deem a “sexy meltdown.” Remember, there are people out there who find this book romantic. Sorry if I just ruined your day by reminding you of that fact.
Chapter 17: No, Thanks
Before we get into anything else, can we just take a moment to stare blankly at the chapter’s title “No, Thanks”? Is McGuire acknowledging the fact that most of our reactions to everything that happen in this book is “no, thanks” or is she trying to somehow be clever? Is it a pointless reference to something within the chapter that I haven’t been able to fully put a finger on? Who knows.
The chapter opens with Abby sitting in class a couple weeks after the breakup. Blando shows up to talk to her because for some reason he is still a character in this book even though he serves no purpose whatsoever. I genuinely can’t figure out if I’d find it weirder if he was never mentioned again, though. [Matthew says: I was kind of torn on this too. I guess anything is on the table after “suddenly, poker-playing gangsters in Las Vegas”.]
Blando asks why Abby isn’t wearing the inappropriately expensive bracelet he bought her for her birthday after they’d gone on like two dates (who could forget all the Chinese takeout). Abby never really answers the question as per usual. As the stilted conversation continues, Blando has some words from the heart to say:
“And I also wanted to apologize for my behavior before. What I said was … unkind. I was just angry, and I lashed out at you. It wasn’t fair, and I’m sorry.”
“I’m not interested in dating, Parker,” I warned.
He chuckled. “I’m not trying to take advantage. We’re still friends, and I want to make sure that you’re okay.”
On the one hand, I don’t blame Abby for being suspicious of his motives for the apology. On the other hand, it reads as a ridiculous response to his apology. Most importantly, though, in what way are they still friends? When were they ever friends to begin with? And in what way have they been friends since? Was it the time Trabby bumped into Blando as he fingered his date against the romantic backdrop of the frat house’s roof? Was it when he spread all the rumors about her sleeping with Travis and him at the same time? Was it when he told Abby that Travis just viewed her as a conquest? Even fucking America has been a better friend to Abby and she is just the worst. [Matthew says: The one counterpoint I have to Ariel’s thorough breakdown of this plot point is that none of the friendships in this book are believable friendships where people act like friends anyway.]
After class, Travis approaches Abby, and we get a mention of her mother! Offhand I can’t remember who told me Abby’s mother was a drunk in one of the comments threads, but she was correct. When Travis asks why she’s not spending Thanksgiving with her mother, she replies:
“She’s a drunk, Travis. She won’t know it’s Thanksgiving.”
I swear this has not come up before, and I don’t recall it ever coming up after. What a lazy way to write off Abby’s mother.
Travis then proceeds to manipulate Abby into agreeing to go to Thanksgiving at his father’s house and pretend they’re still together. You know, because it would make his brothers and father sooo happy! They may have spent their childhoods beating the shit out of Travis, but damn if those brothers of him don’t want him to have that special pigeon in his life.
Here are all the different ways Travis guilts Abby into agreeing:
- Apparently his brothers are only showing up because they thought she would be there (“Thomas is flying in, and Tyler took off work”).
- Even though they broke up, Travis still totally thought she was coming anyway. Because that makes sense. [Matthew says: Hey, she PROMISED.]
- Travis has promised his family a real meal this year and not pizza. They desperately need Abby to help with the turkey. Those men-folk have been without a woman since Travis’ mother died, and women are the only ones who speak Oven. “We haven’t had a woman in the kitchen since Mom died and… ” Abby points out this is sexist, but she fails to point out the emotional manipulation that comes with mentioning your dead mother in this context. [Matthew says: She also fails to give a shit about it for more than one line of dialogue, because in her very next sentence she’s already figuring out what time the turkey would need to go in the oven.]
- His father is expecting her and has been asking about her.
Abby agrees, and when she explains all of this to Shep and America, she’s like, “Well, I can’t ruin his Thanksgiving.” So yeah. Abby is going to spend Thanksgiving at the Maddox’s house, but don’t worry, Travis promised this wasn’t a shameless ploy to get back together with Abby.
“You’re not with him anymore. You don’t have to keep saving him.”
“I know, Mare. But it’s the right thing to do.”
The right thing to do? That’s what you’re gonna go with, Abby? The right thing to do is, like, saving puppies, not Travis’ Thanksgiving dinner. Where the fuck is their puppy these days, huh? WHO IS TAKING CARE OF PLOT PUPPY? No, fucking seriously. He doesn’t even go home with them for Thanksgiving. [Matthew says: Then what is the point of plot puppy?!]
Anyway, jump ahead to Trabby preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Travis’ dad Jim apparently notices that they haven’t been talking too much since arriving, so when Travis leaves the room he asks Abby what’s up. Let’s just say that if Travis’ brothers were responsible for teaching him how to fight, his father was the man responsible for his penchant for emotional manipulation.
“You have to be patient with him. Travis doesn’t remember much about it, but he was close to his mom, [Matthew says: Given that Travis modeled his entire womanizing lifestyle after horribly misinterpreting his mother’s deathbed advice that she kicked EVERYONE ELSE IN THEIR FAMILY out of the room to deliver, I think Travis is fairly aware he was close with his mom.] and after we lost her he was never the same. I thought he’d grow out of it, you know, with him being so young. It was hard on all of us, but Trav … he quit trying to love people after that. I was surprised that he brought you here. The way he acts around you, the way he looks at you… I knew you were somethin’ special.” […]
“I know it’s hard not to blame him, but you have to love him, anyway, Abby. You’re the only woman he’s loved besides his mother. I don’t know what it’ll do to him if you leave him, too.”
Oh my Christ that is way too much to put on a person. It’s on the level of, “He will kill himself if you leave him.” Putting that kind of responsibility on a person for someone else’s well-being is so scary! Especially given they haven’t even been together that long let alone known each other that long. [Matthew says: Despite Travis getting her not-name tattooed on his arm.]
Later that night after they watch a movie, Abby excuses herself to go to bed. I’m only saying this because for some reason Travis’ dad says, “Night, Sis.” I’m wondering if McGuire meant to write one of the brothers saying that? It just makes no sense why the fuck his dad would say that to her. Even weirder, two seconds later, this happens:
“I’m gonna turn in, too,” I heard Travis say.
“I bet you are,” Trenton teased.
“Lucky bastard,” Tyler grumbled.
“Hey. We’re not going to talk about your sister like that,” Jim warned.
So she’s…all of their sister including the father? Furthermore, these people are so fucking intense! And presumptuous! [Matthew says: Maybe “sister” means something completely different to the Maddox family than it does to the entire rest of Western society, like “pigeon”. Maybe some ancestor Maddox got a bad phrasebook and the terms just passed down from generation to generation?]
That night, Travis begs Abby to let him hold her one last time and then begs her to give him another chance, but she turns him down even though she still loves him blah blah. It’s the same conversation we read before. Nothing new to see here, folks. [Matthew says: At least instead of E.L. James’s three books of the same conversation again and again, Jamie McGuire kept the same conversation again and again to one book. And then rewrote it as a second book. Still ahead by one book!]
The next morning they see that it’s snowing…so they have sex. Okay there are a few more lines in between that, but seriously. They go from looking out the window together talking about the snow to Travis being like, “I’m going to kiss you because soon I won’t have another chance” to them boning. At this point, as much as I don’t think Abby should be with Travis, her reasons are complete shit right now. If she recognized how insane he was, I’d be all for her getting away from him, but at this point her reasons are…because Vegas seduced him briefly? Or something? She just says they’re bad for each other, but she doesn’t seem to actually be bothered by anything specifically about Travis. Just get back together and save me from reading about how this is the last time you’ll touch his peen, Abby. It’s not actually heart-wrenching because there is nothing keeping you two apart but your own idiocy.
Abby realizes that everything I’ve said in the above paragraph is true, and she decides to get back together with Travis. EXCEPT THAT SHE DOESN’T.
“Travis, I think we . . . ”
“Don’t say it, okay? I don’t want to think about it until I have to.” He stood up and pulled on his boxers, walking over to my bag. He tossed my clothes on the bed and then yanked his shirt over his head. “I want to remember this as a good day.”
That’s not a reason not to finish your declaration of getting back together, Abby! He would clearly still remember this as a good day if you gave him everything he wanted. The fuck kind of bullshit is this to keep a story going for a few extra chapters?
Abby anxiously awaits a moment to get Travis alone later in the day to tell him she’s decided to take him back. She could literally be like, “Hey, can we talk for a second.” But no.
Later, when they are alone, Travis tells Abby he respects her decision to break up with him and genuinely apologizes for not seeing how much his decision to work for Benny was hurting her. Do you guys wanna know why Abby doesn’t jump in to say that she wants to be with him?
I could have told him that I had changed my mind, and he would take back everything he’d just said, but I knew that it wasn’t fair to either of us to hold on just when he had let go.
WHAT!?!?! That is not… this is a practical joke right? This is a reason we’re meant to take seriously for her not getting back together with him right now?
The chapter ends with Travis dropping Abby back off at her dorm. I hope Kara is safe and sound at home with a happy family and no insanity. That kid needs a break.
Before I wrap this post up, let me just remind you the title of this chapter was “No, Thanks.” I’ve given it a lot of thought while writing this post, and I guess it’s supposed to be a reference to Thanksgiving? And having nothing to be thankful for? I have used about a thousand question marks during this post, and yet have no satisfactory answers.