This chapter is boring as hell. I won’t blame you if you opt out of it. I wish I could. It takes twenty pages to get three small things accomplished in this chapter.
Still with me? Alright then.
We return to find that Violet has returned to the guesthouse. River is inside, talking with Luke and drinking coffee. We’re immediately thrown off the original premise of the trek over, which was to ask River if he had seen Blue in the tunnel as well.
What could distract our oh-so-noble protagonist from her quest? Some fiend lying in wait? A conversation she should not have been privy to?
No. It’s actually a coffee pot.
A moka pot specifically. Violet is surprised that River knows how to use it. Why? I’m not sure. This book was published in 2013. By that time it wasn’t at all uncommon to be linked in on a cellphone or other mobile device all the time. If River didn’t know how to use the moka pot when he arrived, he could simply have looked up how to use it while she was grudgingly babysitting Sunshine.
Violet assumes that River must have spent time in Italy, and surprise surprise, is right. River finally puts the wayward Violet back on the right track and asks about how Sunshine is doing.
“So how’s Sunshine? She alright?”
“Not Really.” I wanted to ask River more about Italy.
Why is Violet our protagonist?? She’s a terrible human being. Her next door neighbor went through a trauma that made her sick with fear, and Violet casually disregards all of that because she wants to hear stories from River. Whom she acknowledges in the very same chapter would probably lie to her about them anyways.
What a catch. You two morons deserve each other.
River denies seeing anything in the tunnel and Luke jumps on the bandwagon, since he is the only one in the chapter thus far who hasn’t had the opportunity to be an asshole, and he feels left out. He says that Sunshine must have gotten spooked and overreacted because she’s a girl.
Violet points out that he wanted to call the police just the previous chapter (and just to remind you, she was the one arguing against, because she’s a horrible friend.) She figures that now would be the time to go to the police. Not, you know, right after it happened.
Luke ignores Violet, as most sane people would, and stretches. We get another of Violet’s snide asides about her brother.
The thick tendons in his arms looked swollen and stiff and stupid.
A few paragraphs later she voices this out loud. You see, Violet’s “don’t be an asshole” filter never developed properly.
It’s okay to like a certain body type over others. I know that I myself prefer lean muscle, instead of the big bulky bulging muscles the author is telling us Luke has. But that is a matter of personal taste. I have known women who like the body builder look. There is nothing wrong with either, if both are done in a healthy way.
Luke plays sports and regularly lifts weights to keep in shape. There is nothing wrong with his muscles. This is just more of Violet constantly being awful to her brother. No wonder he’s more friendly with a bottle than with his sister.
Luke makes plans to go into town and see his girlfriend. He asks if River will go to a movie that night. The town of Echo plays classic movies in the town square during the summer. Because it is easily the most recognizable of classic films, they are of course going to see Casablanca.
Violet wants to make a picnic to go. Luke informs them he was planning on stealing booze and making out with his girlfriend. Luke tries to convince River to go with him to the movies. Which to me speaks to Luke’s desperate need for companionship.
“What do you think River? Shouldn’t Violet stay home and let the men play tonight?”
This line is meant to convey how much of a misogynist Luke is. I don’t read it that way. Since he’ll lose this front of masculinity later on, it seems to me like Luke wants a male friend. Because of his isolation as one of the (formerly) wealthy kids, he has no friends to hang out with or to rely on during his parent’s absence. Luke just wants someone who won’t sneer at his interests the way Violet constantly does. Does it excuse his behavior, no. Is it understandable? I think yes.
Alas, no friends for Luke. River refuses to drink with him. Luke says that he needs the alcohol to not fall asleep during a film. Which is stupid if you know the first thing about alcohol. It’s a depressant, and it will make you sleepy if you drink enough.
River says that Casablanca is one of his favorite films, and he’d love to have a picnic with Violet.
Skip ahead a little in time, and they finally get going into town? You know that thing they tried to do two chapters ago?
Violet has to go on some more about coffee. She tells us about the Italian family that runs the pizza place and the coffee shop. Violet constantly refers to coffee as “joe”. There are a couple of different origins for this phrase. The one that most people readily accept is that a “joe” is your average person. A cup of “joe” unites the average people, in their shared experience of drinking the beverage.
Considering Violet’s attitude and affectations thus far, I find this an odd stylistic choice. Violet prides herself on being well-read and sophisticated. She makes a point of talking about how she drank coffee very young, and could be seen sitting alone in the shop reading Wuthering Heights. Its only a minor thing, but it does bug me. Joe is such an average commonplace word for coffee (and usually to describe really bad workplace coffee), it makes little sense for her to use it as a descriptor.
Violet feels a sudden pang for her missing parents, thinking about how she got away with drinking coffee when she shouldn’t have. Since her parents don’t give two hoots about her most days. She prays to Freddie briefly and feels better.
Luke meets up with his girlfriend Maddy, and they have cute little exchance. Violet mutters that Maddy could do better than Luke. It’s scenes like this that make me want to thump Violet on the head. Here’s some classic traits of low-self esteem that Luke exhibits.
He’s a bully.
This is pretty evident in the text. Luke pushes Violet around because he feels like he has no control over his life. His parents are gone, his grandmother is dead, and he cannot pay the bills and keep his sister and himself fed.
He uses alcohol to cope
As I already said when Luke was introduced in chapter three, he’s sort of a budding alcoholic. He drinks quite a bit.
Luke fools around with Sunshine as much or more than he does with Maddy. We never see or hear that he broke things off with Maddy. For all we know he was still seeing both.
He is influenced by peer pressure
As Violet mentions, Luke has two approaches to men. Intimidation (see the above bullying trait) or hero worship. With River he chooses hero worship. He goes along with whatever River likes, not even becoming angry with River when he discovers that Violet is becoming more physical with him after such a short time.
Luke clearly has low-self esteem. Why? Because his own sister puts him down all the time, even in public, within earshot of others. His only identity is found in the hypermasculine things he still has left to cling to.
So her date with River is interrupted by Daniel Leap, the designated town drunk. Because this story is borrowing its setting from a Stephen King story, it might as well steal its drunk guy as well.
Daniel Leap starts shouting about how the White family are snobs, looking down on everyone else. And how can we argue? This line proceeds his drunken rant.
“Daniel Leap has ruined our view.” I said.
Excuse me? Your view? You went and got a cup of coffee and looked out on the town. You weren’t on a terrace sipping champagne as you watched the sun dip over the Paris skyline. You’re making a much bigger deal out of this than it is. Yes, it’s rude of him to shout, but you can’t just act like he doesn’t have a point. You are snobs.
Violet has to keep River from punching Daniel Leap out. It’s a moot point, since he passed out cold after delivering his plot dictated rant at the protagonist.
So they go to the store. It’s a nitpick, but most small towns would not have this good of a selection of organic produce. Just saying.
Shopping at the Dandelion Co-op made me feel European. Very Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina in Paris (that movie had played a few weeks ago in the park.)
Clumsy. Very Clumsy. This sentence makes me cringe a bit. You just had to name drop another classic movie didn’t you? Even though it bogs down your narration and has no connection to the plot or characters whatsoever.
There are a lot of pages dedicated to showing that River is superior in everything, even shopping. She likes that he “does it like her”. Because anyone who doesn’t fall into the Violet White line of thinking in this book is a fool who will need to be publicly shamed for his ignorance.
They go home. River makes a dish that is actually pretty good (I was hungry while reading the chapter and tried it.) They talk about how there is more to Luke than the anger, drinking and sexism.
Violet and River cuddle up and take a nap on the couch. Despite the fact she has only known him a few hours and there’s no reason she should trust him this implicitly. She doesn’t even know if River West is an alias, she has no idea where he came from or how he has that much money. She’s just impressed that he likes to sniff espresso beans. What more could you ask for in a guy?
Gratuitous swear words: 6