With us getting to know Maddie, learning how far she has come, and how much support, especially financially, she has, it is hard to not make comparisons to her friends and loved ones. Mostly because, while Maddie doesn’t necessarily seem spoiled, arguably what led her to Spring Meadows and what led people like Stewart and Trish is on a whole different level. But I digress, let’s talk about the first 4 chapters of part 3.
Chapter Summaries (with Commentary)
Maddie’s family dynamic is briefly gone over as she explains how she, her mom, and her dad, live. Well, mostly what she talks about is her dad and how his life affects them. For, you see, between her dad traveling extensively, or bringing his work home, he is what pretty much drives the excitement, or boredom, of their lives. For example, Maddie notes there are times he throws lavish parties in their home, and then weeks later he’ll be off to Japan or another foreign country. As for what he does to invigorate her life this chapter? Well, it’s a sudden trip to Aspen, Colorado. A place she goes without Stewart close by but, as you would expect, he is always on her mind.
While Aspen is quite glamorous and gives Maddie the opportunity to pretend to be an adult, unfortunately, it is a bore. Though perhaps the bigger issue is that those she are surrounded by in Aspen are the type of people she was had to separate herself from. One is a girl who goes on what only can be described as a monologue, but then comes two boys. These two boys, of all the preppy kids, are the closest thing to chill she may find. Sad thing is however, they smoke weed. Making it so she has to deal with seeming stuck up for denying their offer and just enjoy the company of the boys’ dog. Which she does gladly since, as tempted as the weed is, she has come too far to start digressing.
It’s another day in Aspen, and being that Maddie is alone and bored, she calls Stewart. Someone who seems a bit busy and preoccupied, but that doesn’t keep Maddie from keeping him on the phone. Which perhaps was a good idea for Stewart is tired of living with his mom, since, you know, she wants him to contribute to the household. So, as a means to attempt escaping, he is going to find his estranged father. An idea which Maddie doesn’t get, for Stewart has a sister, but it seems between a dad who lives within a weed town, and a sister with a boyfriend who is into some bad business, he is choosing the lesser of two evils. Thus making it seem the reason the boy is usually quiet may very well not deal with Maddie, but because he has real problems he can’t afford to possibly brush off like Maddie.
Aspen has come and gone, and with the last chapters noting the stark difference between Maddie and Stewart’s lives, though not directly, it does lead you to wonder if that may ever become an issue? After all, Maddie lives in a multi-story house, has a laundry shoot, stay at home mom, and a rich dad. In comparison, Stewart has a single parent home with what seems to be a deadbeat dad, and a mom who can’t just let her son be a kid – she needs money.
Potential issues aside, though, perhaps the focus right now should be Trish. Someone who, while Maddie was half enjoying Aspen, has killed herself. As for the why and how? Well, exact details aren’t gone into, but likely will come in future chapters.
Getting to know Stewart and his home life more – which I feel is important since Maddie has built herself to be a Batman type of lead in which it is really her co-stars, not her, who deserve your time and attention.
Learning about Maddie’s family dynamic – something we have already known about, but I feel like with how mundane Maddie’s life has become, so comes the need to laid down the foundation of how she ended up going off the rails. Of which, learning about how her family works, or doesn’t, is perhaps the only way.
Maddie avoiding weed, despite the temptation I thought was important since, while I still believe her joy and happiness is highly dependent on Stewart, at least it shows she has some sort of ability to avoid bad people, situations, and drugs in general.
As noted in the highlights, Maddie remains a dull character. One which makes these chapters being so short almost a blessing, for I can’t really wrap my mind around the idea of listening to her musings and what has happened in her life for 5, 10, or more pages at a time.
On The Fence
Being that Trish’s death is perhaps the first major test of Maddie’s sobriety, I wonder how that will be handled?
With Stewart seemingly done with his mother, and desiring to search for his dad, I wonder if he may take any of the focus away from Maddie during his search?
Part 3 ends with quite a few test to Maddie’s sobriety. For between Trish’s funeral, problems with Martin and Stewart, as well as going to a serious high school party, you have to wonder how Maddie may handle it all?
Chapter Summaries (with Commentary)
Chapter 5: The Death of Patricia Carrie Morgan
In this chapter, Trish’s final day is broken down. From getting off work; to being smitten with a decent looking guy, who happen to give her a second look; and then to a drug-fueled night which seemingly led to an overdose. Thus leading to the death of Patricia Carrie Morgan, aka Trish.
Being that Trish was Maddie only friend, needless to say, the impact of her no longer being accessible is devastating. Making how difficult it is to physically be with Stewart even more aggravating for she needs the love and comfort only he can give. However, perhaps the real thing worth noting here is the financial difference between Stewart and Maddie’s life starts to become apparent to Stewart and with Maddie noting her family has money, so comes the question of Stewart’s long-term reaction. Will he not care, for he loves Maddie and not the money; will this change his approach, and maybe he will try to be a kept man; or will he be somewhere in between? It is very hard to say since we know Stewart is struggling financially, but seems a bit too prideful to even ask for help if he needs it.
Within this chapter comes the 2nd major blow to Maddie’s sobriety: a possible breakup with Stewart. Someone who, since he is going to be far away in Redland, isn’t just going to be difficult to see, but almost downright impossible. Granted, he’d just be hard to see over the summer but, as said many times before, Stewart is a sort of crutch for Maddie. His love and affection are her new drug and while Stewart doesn’t outright say this, he recognizes that he is part of her desire for some sort of normalcy. Of which, to various degrees, he just can’t keep up. He has to focus on himself, his stability and sobriety, and having all his time consumed and dedicated to Maddie’s happiness isn’t going to get him there.
It’s Trish’s funeral and with Stewart gone, and no other friends to lend their support, Martin is chosen. A slightly awkward decisions for he has her meet his parents and this all feels a bit too romantic for her. But, despite this, it seems beggars can’t be choosers. However, even with him volunteering his time to go to the funeral of someone he hasn’t even met, or possibly heard of, Maddie shows signs of being unappreciative. Mostly in picking on his posture, which perhaps is just reacting to the oddness of the situation. For not only is he at an unfamiliar person’s funeral, but the only people who show up is Trish’s sister, mother, a possible aunt, and father. No other friends, no other family, and with this you are sort of forced to realize that as sad as Maddie made Trish seem before, we truly didn’t know the half of it.
Strangely, it seems with Trish being buried it awakens something in Maddie. In a cruel way, you could see Trish’s death as one more wake up call, one showing Maddie the worst case scenario if she ever falters, but you could also see it as her being forced to realize how precious life is. Either way, it seems post-Trish’s funeral Maddie finds herself going from Cs to As and becoming real serious about studying. An odd evolution if only because I can’t recall, off-hand, Maddie ever speaking about any sort of future, outside of the one she wanted with Stewart. But, again, with Trish’s future over, maybe Maddie realized she has to get serious about hers.
After Maddie picking on Martin during the funeral, it seems he is utterly done with her. Be it just because she is ungrateful for him being there for her, or because he genuinely wanted more than her friendship and he can’t take the idea of not getting a taste of the mad dog. Either way, Martin seems to have exited Maddie’s life and it is hard to say how strongly Maddie cares. I mean, yeah, she lost a friend, but arguably she wasn’t ever really that invested in Martin in the first place.
With Martin gone comes the return of Emily Brantley, Jake, Alex, and Raj. All of which aren’t the best influences considering Maddie is losing more and more people who have the potential to ground her. But, considering she has been far away from her positive influences before, and ignored the temptations of intoxication, perhaps I have been underestimating Maddie’s strength. After all, it seems the time she would once spend partying and all that, an option presenting itself, she is dedicating to studying.
In chapter 7 it seemed like the beginning of the end of Maddie and Stewart, and it seems Stewart decided to test this theory. For with him noting how Maddie has been so demanding, it seems he wanted to see if he could ask something of Maddie and get what he wanted. The answer: no. He wanted Maddie to come live with him and his father but it is out in the middle of nowhere. A seriously problem for Maddie since, after all, she is used to a certain lifestyle. Plus, on top of that, she is trying to dedicate her summer to catching up and getting her life together. Something Stewart understands, to a point but, from a 3rd party perspective, it seems the honeymoon period has officially ended for both and they are realizing that some adjustments have to be made if they are going to be a long-term couple. Primarily in how they are going to have their goals coincide with each other.
A test of strength. That is what this chapter is. Not because it is bad or anything, but because it involves Maddie going to Emily’s party and being surrounded by hot boys, alcohol, and cocaine. All of which she avoids. Something which seemingly disappoints some, for Maddie is known to be a legendary partier, but it seems that chapter has officially closed and, despite the troubles in Maddie’s life, ranging from Trish’s death to school, to Stewart, her old lifestyle doesn’t seem an appealing way to cope at all.
This two-page chapter pretty much deals with Maddie leaving a room, in which cocaine is being offered, to her car. Showing that, even with such a brave and noble rejection of temptation, what the mind says and body wants can be two different things. But, despite the shakes, and perhaps a tad bit of the squirmies, she remains strong against old vices.
Being quite the whirlwind set of chapters, there was this constant curiosity to see whether or not any of these events could break Maddie. Her best friend died, her boyfriend became both physically and emotionally distant, he school friend told her off publicly, and she was thrown into her old world and came out unscathed. Leading to the thought: what was the original trigger?
I liked the fact Stewart sort of tested if he can be like Maddie and ask for something he really wants and watch her grit her teeth and adapt. For, as said before, it often seemed Stewart was going through the motions and, sex aside, it seemed he didn’t get a whole lot out of this relationship. After all, Stewart is capable of making friends, finding a job, and making it. As for Maddie, until the topic of focusing on school came up, it seemed she was ready to coast until her vehicle ran out of gas. But now, so comes the smitten girl meeting the man who has slight demands, though more so desires, of his own. Which, unfortunately for Stewart, Maddie isn’t going to bend on.
I loved the fact Martin told Maddie off for, all things considered, he has really gone above and beyond trying to help her get acclimated to coming back to a regular school environment and give her some sort of taste of friendship. Granted, a part of me does feel like his outburst is due to him feeling like he was friend zoned but, nonetheless, I do enjoy seeing Maddie tested and challenged.
I’m quite glad Maddie is now having some sort of direction in life because, while still a very dull character to follow, at the very least some outline of a goal we can see for her future.
It seemed weird that after Chapter 8, pretty much Trish quickly became an afterthought.
Though this may affect the TV show more than the book, I have a strong feeling that Stewart and Maddie are going to often go back and forth over whether they will end up together or perhaps their differences will drive them apart.
On The Fence
I remain unsure what each part of the book is supposed to represent, and whether or not each part would have been better as chapters. For, and excuse me for beating a dead horse, I just have never experienced chapters which are two pages and it perplexes the hell out of me. Mostly because I don’t know if perhaps I’m missing a deeper meaning, maybe I should see this more so as a diary turned into a narrative or, plain and simple, I just don’t get what Blake Nelson was looking to do with this book. Either way, I remain interested so I’ll continue on, but hopefully part 4 has a bit more bang, or backstory, to help craft Maddie into someone worth paying attention to.
Things To Note
I feel like this is the least quotable book I have ever read.