I can’t remotely pretend I’m excited about actually reading a Jamie McGuire book again. But I am excited that Ariel and I are both reading the same one this time, so I only have to write up half of it! [Ariel says: A surge of joy went through me when I was reading the second chapter and realized I didn’t have to write a whole post on it.]
Casual reminder that right now you can get the pigeon mug or the double-sided cardigans 4 ever mug for a special lower price before we realize what an awful mistake we’ve made starting a new Jamie McGuire book!
Returning to the Disasters world of Jamie McGuire is like running into an old friend who immediately reminds you of everything you hated about them when you last hung out. Like their aggressive text messages with weirdly incongruous abbreviations yet correct punctuation.
My phone chirped for the third time. […] It was a text from Trenton.
“Get up, lazy. Yeah, I’m talking to u.”
[…] Damn it. What was I thinking, giving him my phone number?
I have no idea either, and now we’ll never know why she did this thing that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, we could infer alcohol, but we could also infer a contrived way to get them together that conveniently doesn’t have to be explained. [Ariel says: Knowing that Trent = Travis, I’m guessing he was just really persistent and she couldn’t be fucked to keep arguing when she wanted to go home and pass out.]
Abby Cami wakes up, her BFF America Raegan and her boyfriend Shep Kody are there too, to be invested in her love life. Also to… feed his ginormousness?
“Who’s blowing up your phone?”
“None of your business.” I said […]
Kody chuckled, and then he began banging around pots and pans in the kitchen, probably getting ready to feed his ginormousness.
Just in case this isn’t confusing enough, keep in that that Raegan’s boyfriend’s name is Kody, and Cami’s brother’s name is Coby. I will 100% get this right in every summary. [Ariel says: I’m so glad you pointed that out, I was convinced Coby was actually named Cody, and was vaguely relieved two letters were different in the name. Or one and a half since K is pretty close to C in this situation.]
We also take this opportunity for Cami to tell us about her apartment, which she’s lived in for three years and Raegan’s been in for one, and that it isn’t particularly furnished, isn’t the nicest property in town, but is in a neighborhood with more young professional families and fewer loud college kids. [Ariel says: She also went on about this Pottery Barn gift card Raegan had. Because we were all wondering what to get her for her birthday next year.] And once that exposition is over, Cami exchanges a few text massages with her boyfriend T.J.
“You went out last night?”
“You expected me to stay home and cry myself to sleep?”
“Good. I don’t feel so bad, now.”
“No, keep feeling bad. It’s really okay.”
“I want to hear your voice, but I can’t call right now. I’ll try to call tonight.”
“K? Seems like a waste of a text.”
I’m more confused why she put a period after “k”. [Ariel says: To make it look extra bitchy! Every passive aggressive-savy woman knows this.]
After a few more texts ends the conversation on a slightly higher note, Cami gives us more exposition about the history of her relationship with T.J., and then about her life because nothing says engaging start to a book like telling instead of showing! And here I thought that Ariel would get stuck with all the infodumping in the first chapter, but NOPE – IT GOES ON. [Ariel says: I skipped so much info dump about Cami’s fucking car and the fact that T.J. does some mysterious statistical analysis job which is just vague enough to seem important. There, now you’re not alone in the info dump today, Matt.] I’m just gonna go through all this information for you with a bullet point list, because it’s basically how this reads in Beautiful Oblivion. I just put the bullet points in. It’s okay, Beautiful Oblivion. I get you.
- They’ve been dating for six months
- Three months in, T.J. was assigned to a new, big assignment that was great for his career, but meant long-distance for them
- Cami doesn’t really get what his job is [Ariel says: To be fair, I don’t think McGuire has any idea either.]
- T.J. is an overachiever and a perfectionist
- Cami would rather live anywhere else but in the smallish college town she does
Cami wanted to go to Eastern State University forever, but moved out of the dorms after her first year because of “the ridiculousness of dorm life”, and living independently caused “difficulties”, so she dropped a few classes, and instead of graduating this year, she’s only a sophomore. I think we’re supposed to sympathize with her here, but it honestly sounds like she fell two years behind in school because living in a dorm was too “ridiculous”.
Raegan goes into Cami’s room for an incredibly Disasters-y reason.
“God, he eats like a horse.”
“He’s the size of a horse. Everywhere.”
After that totally realistic dialogue between friends, Raegan assures Cami that she totally saw the look on Cami’s face when Trenton gave her a drink. GUESS THEY’RE STAR-CROSSED LOVERS NOW. More importantly, Cami really hates eggs.
Kody had spent enough nights here that he knew I despised eggs, but since he made me an alternative breakfast, I forgave the putrid egg smell that filled up our apartment every time he stayed the night.
I guess Cami has a character now.
“You’re both acting like I was all over him. We talked.”
“He bought you four drinks. And you let him,” Raegan said.
“And he walked you to the car,” Kody said.
“And you traded phone numbers,” Raegan said.
“I have a boyfriend,” I said […]
“Who you haven’t seen in almost three months, and who’s canceled on you twice,” Raegan said.
“So, he’s selfish because he’s dedicated to his job and wants to move up the ladder? […] T.J. was honest from the beginning about how demanding his job could be. Why am I the only one not surprised?”Kody and Raegan traded glances, and then continued eating their disgusting chicken fetuses.
I realize this is technically Cami talking and not Jamie McGuire (death of the author and intentional fallacy and all that English major stuff), but, um, Jamie McGuire does know that eggs sold in grocery stores are unfertilized, right? Like, not every egg that comes out of a chicken will automatically become a chicken. This might sound like I’m getting too hung up on a basic scientific misunderstanding, but I’m genuinely concerned that Jamie McGuire has lived her entire life in terror of a carton of eggs left in her fridge too long will suddenly explode into a dozen chickens.
Kody is meeting Reagan’s parents today, which somehow becomes a reason to give a completely different, minor character from the previous books an entire origin story. You guys remember Brazil? [Ariel says: Literally only because he was the other character besides America who was named after a country.]
Jason Brazil wasn’t a bad guy, we just pretended that he was. We all went to high school together, but Jason was a year younger. [Raegan and Jason Brazil] decided to seal the deal before she went to college, hoping it would solidify their relationship. […] Not long after Jason began his own freshman year at ESU, the wonders of college, joining a fraternity, and being Eastern State football’s star true freshman kept him busy, and the change spawned nightly arguments. He respectfully broke it off, and never once spoke a bad word about her. But he took Raegan’s virginity and then didn’t keep his end of the bargain: to spend the rest of his life with her.
Let’s think about what a terrible and unhappy world this would be if everyone stayed with the person they lost their virginity to. Forever. On the plus (?) side, Ariel can add Brazil to her character count! [Ariel says: We’re at 4 now!!! DRINK DRINK DRINK. Also I just have to say, it’s realllly dumb they hold such a grudge about him when Raegan is with someone she loves now…it would be fine if she wasn’t over him, but they’ve already said he was totally nice to her, and she and Koby are pretty serious so…why.]
After four more lines of dialogue, it’s back on the exposition train! Raegan’s parents have a dysfunctional relationship and her dad yells a lot and doesn’t like T.J., so I can’t wait to see how this book awkwardly shoehorns in him liking a Travis Maddox clone. Speaking of…
My cell phone pinged. It was Trenton again.
“This is new. I’ve never had a girl give me her number n then ignore me.”
It gets more obnoxious.
“Did we make plans to eat?”
“You don’t eat?”
“K, then. You plan to eat. I plan to eat. Let’s eat.”
Time to get back on the Exposition Train to I’m-Not-One-Of-Those-Girls Station!
From the second [Trenton] got his driver’s license, he had made his way through high school classmates and Eastern State coeds, and I swore I’d never be one of them. Not that he’d ever tried. Until now. I didn’t want to be flattered, but it was hard not to be after being one of the few females Trenton and Travis Maddox had never attempted to sleep with.
And then on the Exposition Train to Tragic Backstory Junction!
Less than two years before, Trenton’s life changed. He was riding in the passenger seat of Mackenzie Davis’s Jeep Liberty on their way out to a spring break bonfire party. The Jeep was barely recognizable when it was hauled back into town […] Swallowed by the guilt of Mackenzie’s death, Trenton couldn’t concentrate in class, and by mid-April, he’d decided to move back in with his father and drop all his classes.
We couldn’t have learned this in any other way? Like, maybe from Trenton? Or in a conversation about him? The best way to convey this key bit of character information was to be told in an infodump about how he was a creepy womanizer now consumed by guilt, when every scene that actually shows him shows… a creepy womanizer?
Trenton Maddox stood in the doorway, holding two white paper sacks.
“Lunch,” he said with a smile. […]
“How did you know where I live?”
“I asked around,” he said, walking past me.
We immediately take the Exposition Train back to Tragic Backstory Junction to learn that Trenton’s mom died of cancer, because when you’re telling your reader that someone important to a main character died and it defined who they are as a person, you want their reaction to be, “Again?”
Just like Travis did in the books before him, Trenton acts obnoxiously, presumptuously, and oddly childishly as he ignores all the female character’s protests. Or, in a post-Twilight-world, romantically.
- “I hope you like Cherry Coke, baby doll, or we can’t be friends.” [Ariel says: OMG, Matt, you remembered this “baby doll” nonsense from the first book. Now we can all start arguing about which we hate more – Pigeon or baby doll. It’s a tough call for me.]
- Trenton held up a Spaceballs DVD. “I know you said you were studying, so if you can’t, you can’t, but I borrowed this from Thomas the last time he was in town, and I still haven’t watched it.”
- “Do you always surprise attack a girl’s apartment with food?”
“No, but it was time.”
“Time for what?”
He looked at me, blank faced. “For lunch.”
Awkward dialogue is awkward.
“I have a boyfriend.”
Trenton wasn’t faxed. “Then he’s not much of one. I’ve never seen him around.”
Guess how many times this exchange happens throughout the book?
“I have the weekend off.”
“Awesome, me too. I’ll swing by later to get you. […] See you at seven!”
I rushed into my room [after he left] and grabbed my cell phone.
“Not going anywhere w u. I told u, I have a bf.”
Cami at least observes while Trenton “really wasn’t going to take no for an answer”, that this is “rude”. But then she ends the chapter determined to evade his manwhore advances and just be friends, because apparently she wants to be friends with him now.
There was absolutely no trick Trenton Maddox could play that I wouldn’t be ready for.
Question of the Day! So I guess we’re about to see this book’s version of the “Abby dresses down to meet up with Travis, but it doesn’t diminish his interests” scene. What scenes from Beautiful or Walking Disaster are you waiting to see see again exactly the same but with different names? Trenton buys Cami a plot gerbil? The students without Hulu? Tell us in the comments!