Calendar Girl (June) Chapter 10: It’s Bad

Trigger Warning: sexual assault. You can save this one for later if you really don’t want to be in a bad mood at this particular moment.

Calendar Girl (June): Chapter 10

Well, I’m gonna be upfront here. Last chapter ended with Aaron trying to rape Mia and this is where the story is at now. I feel extraordinarily uncomfortable trying to write about this. Our books have touched on this stuff now and then, but rarely this intensely. We’re a comedy blog. It says “Good Times” in the name. This is a pretty rough way to kick off our week, content-wise.

So I’m not writing jokes about the awful shit that happens in this chapter. That said, this book is so ineffable, it’s hard not to write in that “wait, really?” style of semi-gallows humor, where the story itself is what’s at stake, becoming less of an idea you’re experiencing and more of a stack of dead trees you’re holding instead. I’m still undecided if this chapter is merely a mixed success or straight-up polarizing. And I personally think indecision is a perfectly fine stance for a critic to take, because sometimes stories are just inherently messy.

The ending of this story delivers on that mess.

“You ready to get pounded?” It was the last thing I heard and was said with absolute disdain. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to come from the young senator who the world adored. A man who was on the fast track to becoming President of the United States one day.

This hasn’t aged well.

“I’ll show you what getting pounded looks like, you piece of shit!” Mason roared.

Yes, this is a good time for jokes, Calendar Girl.

A barely conscious Mia recounts how Mason appears at the last moment and fights off Aaron. Of course, this is an erotica novel we’re reading on this blog, so even during this scene, Mia has to comment on how attractive they are.

The punches thrown were instead by two stunningly attractive men in tuxedos.

Yeah, I wish I were kidding too.

Mason punches out Aaron, Rachel arrives on the scene to tend to Mia, and Mia loses consciousness. She wakes up in the hospital, where Mason and Rachel are watching over her. Mason is still consumed with malice over Aaron. Mia tells them about the time Aaron fondled her in her sleep. Mason comforts her, assuring her that “family takes care of one another”, while Rachel somehow ends up on Mia’s phone with Tai.

“Who is this? Oh yeah, she was with you in Hawaii. Yeah, some senator roughed her up, but she’s ok now. Excuse me? You’re going to what? Hello?”

I get that the theme here is that friends are the family you make, and this is of course very serious, but how does Tai have the money or availability to grab the next flight from Hawaii to Washington D.C. at a moment’s notice?

“Oh no. Who was that on the phone?” I called out to Rachel.
She held the phone and looked at the screen. “It says Sexy Samoan.”

Ok, I know this isn’t the best time to tell Mia that this is a low key racist thing for her to do, but can someone please just take note to bring this up sometime?

Mia turns off her phone. Tai shows up at the hospital, somehow, despite jumping on a plane without confirming what hospital Mia is at or getting anyone else’s contact information.

“No one hurts my ‘aiga. My family.” […] There was that word again. “Family.”

Speaking of family, how come no one’s contacted Mia’s sister who is so important to her that the events of this story are taking place so she can protect her?

All these wonderful men, caring for me, taking care of me.

Fuck Rachel, I guess.

“This is going to be a shitstorm for the press. Fuck, what am I going to do? The Shipleys are huge, and Warren… Oh my God, his son.” Tears poured down my face, and I covered my eyes.
“Warren is going to make sure his son is properly punished for his actions,” came the booming voice of Warren Shipley himself. […]
“I knew he was unstable when he drank. That’s why he rarely did. In the past, he had a drinking problem and became violent when he was under the influence, but I thought that was behind him. Until, of course, the moment after I told him that Kathleen and I were an item.”

If you wonder if the rest of this book will ever explore how fucked up it is that Warren is blaming Aaron’s actions on his telling his grown-ass son that he’s dating someone… yeah, nope, we’re on a schedule here.

“Then it was like something snapped in him.”
“Something’s definitely about to snap in him,” Tai growled from his spot next to me.
Warren’s eyes flicked to Tai […] “Friend of yours, I gather?”

Hopefully you got a chuckle out of that one moment of comic relief, because Aaron is a white man with tons and tons of daddy’s money, so you already know this is all about to go to absolute shit in three… two…

“As much as I hate that this happened, and I do, Mia, more than you could ever know,” he croaked, frowning deeply, the wrinkles in his face never having been more prevalent than they were now. “I have to think of the lives of all the people that I’m working to save. If this gets out about what happened, not only is it political suicide for my son, my project, but also the lives we planned to save…” He shook his head and lowered it in shame, unable to continue.
“Jesus Christ. They want you to sweep this under the rug. Because of a politician?” Tai’s voice trembled as he spoke. “Girlie, that is not okay. Justice must be served—” he started, but I cut him off.
“Tai, there’s more at stake than you know. And I’ll explain it to you. Later. When we’re alone, I promise.” […]
I was giving a prospective rapist a get-out-of-jail-free card. It took everything I had in me to think of all the men, women, and children in countries all over the world who would never have the modern medicine that we had in the States. […] He’d lose every single investor, especially Mr. Benoit, if the truth was made public. On the other end of the spectrum, the press wouldn’t have to dig too deep to find out who hired me and why. It would negatively affect […] Aunt Millie, Wes, Alec, Tony, Hector, Mason […]
Slowly, I dished out the things I felt were fair. “He will go into rehab for his drinking. […] He’ll also need anger-management sessions with a qualified professional. […] He will do these things or I will take this to the press. […] One last thing… The money. […] I will not take a cent. There will be no settlement or hush money exchanged. I’m not a whore. I’m a woman he defiled. He should be going to jail for what he did to me, Warren, but because of you and what you’re trying to do to help the world, the less fortunate, I’m backing down. I’m going against everything I believe in to make sure that nothing happens to stop this program moving forward. Don’t make me regret it.”

Ok, first, I have some gifs for how you’re feeling.

Second… this is… a lot. A lot. Like I can’t do this one on my own. Let’s get Ariel in here and… just have some feelings…

Matthew: hey, have you finished Calendar Girl June yet? The last two chapters seem… tough…

Ariel: omg no I haven’t

Matthew: ok yeah definitely leave yourself plenty of time to figure out how to write a post about it. aaron attempts to do a thing… it’s predictable… and mia’s decision about what to do about it afterwards seems… polarizing… I have no idea what I’m going to say about it

Ariel: that was what i had feared -_-

Matthew: yeah. it’s a predictable last-minute save from before it happens, but enough happens. also, making shit more ridiculous, i’m not making this up, donald trump is there. I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Ariel: I JUST read that

Matthew: WHAT THE EVEN F

Ariel: aaron’s dialogue is ridiculous. i feel weird making fun of an attempted rape scene but it’s awful. “he said dementedly”… he roars that she’s white trash…

Matthew: I KNOW. ok this is my real point though. like some of this is ridiculous, but it’s also very very serious.

Ariel: i like that everyone is 100% supportive of Mia, but it is also just like such a weird ending… he’s asking her to cover it all up FOR THE CHARITY and she’s like yup too much is at stake. urggg. he should pay the rest of her blaine bills at least

Matthew: OH THAT COMES UP

Ariel: but she won’t take a dime. what the fuck. this makes no sense.

Matthew: I honestly can’t decide if I’m even ok with her reasoning. she does her “i’m not a whore” thing again, but I can’t help but feel like it’s all arbitrary reasons to not just end the series right here and now. also, re: the charity thing… that’s SO BULLSHIT. you know what would be a good PR move to recover from your politician son’s attempted rape? the third-world medical supply charity HE’S ALREADY ALMOST READY TO LAUNCH.

Ariel: yup yup yup.

Matthew: i mean, jesus, suck it up and SEND. YOUR. SON. TO. JAIL.

Ariel: and she still says she’s living life to the fullest…like that’s how it ends. omg it’s such bullshit. she’s like la la men in sexy suits can be rapists too! and she actually never uses the word rape does she? she just vaguely says he “attacked” her

Matthew: yeah, true, it also dances around using the word, but idk how I feel about criticizing how Mia processes her traumatic experience?

Ariel: but i think, as the author, carlan is actually doing people a disservice but not using the power of language to name aaron’s actions correctly. by glossing it over, it’s minimizing what he did. I’m left feeling like it wasn’t that big of a deal and yay family came to mia’s rescue, which, no, what?

Matthew: there’s a lot of plot contrivances to keep the story going. Mia makes a lot of strange-looking decisions that I cynically feel like she only makes so audrey carlan doesn’t write herself into a corner and has to end the series right there. Like how many opportunities she’s had to get the money to pay off Blaine right then and there.

Ariel: yeah agree 100%. she could have taken the money, ensured her family’s safety, and then decided she wanted to continue on her journey or something. for someone who is willing to do anything to save her dad… she’s not all that willing to do anything.

Huge thanks to Ariel for helping me come to this conclusion:

Warren (who sure as fuck isn’t “mak[ing] sure his son is properly punished”) agrees to Mia’s terms, and for the rest of the month keeps his distance from her while Mason, Tai, Rachel, and Kathleen (who doesn’t fucking deserve any of this and got totally fucking glossed over) look over Mia. Also, Mason and Tai become BFFs. Even I take some genuine pleasure in hearing that by this point. Gimme a book about Mason and Tai’s gross friendshi- actually wait I have immediately changed my mind.

The day before Tai flies back, Tai and Mia share a moment overlooking the New York City skyline, paralleling the moments they spent overlooking Hawaii. Tai says he prefers Hawaii (yeah, no shit). He also notices Mia’s tattoo. Audrey Carlan isn’t sure what the tone of this book is anymore.

His thumb stopped over the small T in one of the petals. The heat from that one digit burned into my skin and traveled up my leg to land in the place that was very familiar with Tai. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure my pussy has written “Ode to Tai” poems and love letters

Sure.

“What do these letters mean?” he asked. […]
“These correspond to a man who affected my life in a manner I want to remember. It reminds me that each experience was meant to be, and that for a time, I felt truly loved.”

…not gonna lie, this was actually a really nice scene with Mia and Tai. You know, aside from the “my pussy has written ‘Ode to Tai’ poems” part.

June ultimately ends like all the other books do, which is… really to its detriment given… the previous 2000 words I wrote about this chapter up until this point. Mia writes her farewell letter to Warren and Kathleen.

Warren & Kathleen,
I’m sorry for how things ended. I know that you’d never wish what happened to me onto anyone, and I do not blame you. Thank you for sending me the details about Aaron’s rehabilitation. Hearing he’s getting help makes what happened somehow a bit easier to deal with. My fondest wish is that he finds the peace he needs.

In case you’re thinking, “Wait, the closure kind of made sense for once”…

I want you both to know that the time I shared with the two of you was truly lovely.

…it doesn’t.

Seeing your relationship progress into something long-lasting is inspiring.

Each Calendar Girl novella ends with Mia writing a letter where Audrey Carlan summarizes what the theme was supposed to be, and by now that’s actually more of a consistent quality of these books than that theme ever having anything to do with what the story was actually about.

Mia says her goodbyes to Warren and Kathleen at the airport and tries to summarize this book. She tries to not do it on a down note. It doesn’t work great.

From matchmaking, to sexting and wicked hot dreams, to covert business deals, and helping third-world countries, Canadian nymphos, and being attacked, it had been one helluva month.

One of these things is not like the other.

never judge a book by its cover, even when they come in drop-dead-sexy suits with political stature and unlimited assets

In retrospect, I’m not sure why I was so worried about coming off as too lighthearted and flippant in this post when this book doesn’t even care about doing that.

Yep, life was strange, but I was living it to the fullest.

This is a really weird thing to say about getting beaten and almost raped.

I had to trust the journey. And my journey was taking me to a mocha-skinned hip-hop artist named Anton Santiago to make a music video.

Oh, fuck, I forgot that we have an almost definitely racist sequel to look forward to. Why are we only halfway through the year?

They say white men can’t jump. Well, this white chick can’t dance.

This might actually be the worst segue I’ve ever read in my life.


If Calendar Girl made you extraordinarily angry today, I’d like to suggest a way to channel some of that anger into something productive and cathartic. I’ve recently made donations to two charities that I can’t help but find relevant after this point in the story. If you’re angry about how Aaron’s career was protected at Mia’s expense, consider a donation to Protect Our Defenders, a charity providing free legal assistance to sexual assault survivors in the US military. If you’re angry that Aaron only avoided jail time because the rich can afford to buy their way out of jail, consider a donation to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund (or something similar local to your area), a charity which helps nonviolent and low-level offenders who are incarcerated while awaiting trial because they can’t afford to pay bail. I’d encourage anyone with similar charities in mind to please share in the comments. We can be angry about a book today, but we can turn that into something that helps real people in the future.

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11 comments

  1. Jennifer Layton

    You handled this very well. I know this was a hard recap to write, because dear god, this chapter was awful in a whole different way from the usual bad writing you review. Thank you for the sensitivity you showed and for the charity information.

    7+

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  2. Anne

    My biggest problem with this chapter is that it seems only to exist to get Mia to realize how great her friends are (something she did not even seem to think about in the previous novel, so it suddenly being an issue makes this even worse), which is something that could have been done in so many different ways. Mia could have caused some kind of accident in a very embarrassing way, only for her friends to surprise her in the hospital to show her how worried they were and how much they love her. Or what about a paparazzi who finds out about her and writes a very horrible article about her, and then having her friends using their influence to help her, while also assuring her that they don’t care about the things the paparazzi wrote.
    I hope that the rest of the series does not try to handle serious subjects like this again, so we all can go back to make fun of the series.

    That said, I do appreciate the way you handled the recap of this chapter.

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  3. wordswithhannah

    Yikes x 1000000000000000

    This book will never point out that Warren is an intensely shitty person, will it?

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  4. Sue W

    “Mia turns off her phone. Tai shows up at the hospital…”

    Excuse me, WHAT??? He shows up when, right after she hangs up? Does the author have any idea how long it takes to get from Hawaii to anywhere else??

    As for the rest of the chapter – I can’t even.

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    • matthewjulius Post author

      It’s in the next scene, so I guess she slept for about… a day?

      2+
  5. Jo ⭐ Humbug (@KittyCatalyst)

    Well, that was …honestly better than I expected :/ But still not greaaaaaat…
    This series is so frustrating. It’s the perfect set up for Mia to explore tons of things, like sexuality, and how people all have different problems, but it handles them with such a blasé attitude and focuses too much on made-up Mia problems. It makes me want to write my own version to use as a teaching tool about sexualities and different lifestyles. Ugh.

    Re: the next book–
    1. I am so amused at the way Mia has been describing POC skin tones solely with coffee-related words (latte, espresso, mocha). The FIRST thing on any instructions of how not to be racist/fetishistic when describing POC is DO NOT USE FOOD WORDS. Can’t wait to see what other terminology we have to read with our very own eyeballs.
    2. As a latina, I am looking forward to being entertainingly appalled at the entire next book 😀 Thank you guys for calling this series out on its bullshit.

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  6. Madeline

    I’m saying this for the sake of y’all’s own mental health, please take a breather from this series. You handled this well for how this was but this is too much

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    • matthewjulius Post author

      We are! We’re actually taking a two week break to cover something VERY different!

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  7. Cara

    I wrote out all my thoughts on how badly this was handled, but that whole thing is practically long enough to be its own blog post, so I’ll just say this ending is really kinda awful. Thanks for the “what the fuck” parade and the charity information. Those were both appropriate and helpful.

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