Recap #64: Identity Theft by Anna Davies
Title: Identity Theft by Anna Davies
Summary: Hayley is going to have the best year ever. After years of careful planning, she’s ready to serve as student council president AND editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Ivy League, here she comes!
However, just before student council elections, someone creates a fake facebook profile for Hayley and starts posting inappropriate photos and incriminating updates. It must be the work of a highly skilled Photoshopper, but the attention to detail is scary. The embarrassing photos of “Hayley” in her bathing suit reveal a birthmark on her back–a birth mark Hayley has never shown in public. . .
The situation escalates until Hayley’s mother reveals some shocking information. Hayley isn’t an only child: She has a twin sister who was adopted by a different family. And that’s not all. Soon, Hayley discovers that her long-lost sister isn’t just playing a prank–she’s plotting to take over Hayley’s life . . . by any means necessary. [Wing: Note: NO STUDENT COUNCIL ELECTIONS. No fucking birthmark. And if I’d read the summary before the book, it would have given away the big twist. What the fuck, publisher?]
Tagline: Some friend requests refuse to be ignored… [Wing: Note: NO FUCKING FRIEND REQUESTS ACTUALLY HAPPEN TO HAYLEY.]
Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.
The dedication reads: To the NYC crew: For always keeping me on the right side of sanity
Unsurprisingly, I am not looking forward to reading this book. I know I’ve read it before (and it’s the book that made Dove quit all new Point Horror until we recapped them), but I don’t remember a damn thing about it except that Dove hates it. I’m hoping for lots of Dove Goes Boom moments to get me through.
[Dove: Yep, I haven’t read this from beginning to end. I actually refused to finish it because it was so awful, so… I guess my feelings about this pointless waste of my time can be inferred from that. Also this will mean my comments are largely useless. I’m actually very much looking forward to Wing’s recap of this, because it means I’ll get to find out exactly how it happens without having to revisit the book itself.]
[Wing: YOU DIDN’T EVEN FUCKING READ IT THIS TIME?! DO YOU KNOW THE TERRIBLE BOOKS I’VE READ SO I CAN PROPERLY COMMENT ON YOUR RECAPS?! YOU LEFT ME TO DEAL WITH THIS ALONE?! WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK, DOVE.]
(Here’s the podcast episode for this book.)
We open with our unnamed first person protagonist pausing outside the royal-blue doors of the Bainbridge Secondary School. Protagonist has gone to school with them their entire life, but they haven’t seen anyone since they left for a summer debate intensive in New Hampshire. They’re not looking for a catch-up session, and instead pretend to examine their senior year schedule as Keely Young (highlighted blond hair, glowing skin, looks like she’d “breezed in straight from a Nantucket beach, signature slouch), Ingrid Abramson (tiny silver stud in her nostril, spent two months backpacking through Europe and tweeting about it, perfect posture), and Emily Hines (loves boys, vapid voice, too tall heels, loves Keeping Up with the Kardashians) head toward the entrance. They were once protagonist’s best friends, but ditched them midway through freshman year when they quit the field hockey team to concentrate on their grades. Keely, Ingrid, and Emily have spent the last three years snarking that they made the wrong decision.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 1 (+1) (Because girls can’t be friends, AMIRIGHT? For some reason, this girl, who is utterly desirable in the looks department, hates the ever-loving fuck out of our protagonist. And, despite claiming to not care, our protagonist makes digs about her all the time.)
Protagonist is particularly bitter about Ingrid’s adventures, because way back in eighth grade, the two of them spent hours clipping articles from travel magazines and dreaming of the trips they’d take together. They’d get as many piercings as possible, meeting a hot boy on a train (Ingrid), being mistaken for a native Parisian and being kissed by any boy at all (protagonist).
Emily has decided not to date high school boys anymore because they’re too young and it’s kinda pathetic to do so when you’re a senior; Keely turns this on protagonist, and mocks girls who don’t date at all during high school, especially those who think a guy will wreck their GPA. Emily adds on, mocking girls who make up a boyfriend and put him all over Facebook. Ingrid is done with Facebook because it’s soooooo insular and everyone who’s anyone uses Instagram now. Oh god, you fucking hipster. Keeley points out that she’s being super fucking hypocritical, because everyone crossposts from Instagram to Facebook anyway (often true), and Ingrid put up her Europe album on Facebook anyway. She gets one final jab in that all the losers are joining Facebook now.
Not protagonist, though, because those three made sure of it back freshman year.
Okay, this is already getting old. Give us a name. Give us some actual details on what happened. Give us something.
And we immediately get a name, so thank fuck for that: Protagonist is Hayley Westin, who has no fewer than ten plaques in the trophy case chronicling her achievements (physics, scholar-athlete of the year, national merit scholar). She’s pretty pleased with all her awards, and tries hard not to think about the fact she has more awards than friends. She’s trying hard to get the Ainsworth scholarship, which pays full tuition, room and board, and a $5000 a year travel stipend for 10 students across the USA. That’s pretty amazing.
Hayley swears she needs that award, so her mother won’t worry, so she won’t have to choose the major with the most money after graduation, etc. This is and isn’t true. There are plenty of schools and scholarships, though maybe not as prestigious as she is planning to attend. That’s not clear yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s set on some sort of Ivy. Lots of people (me included) go to school without their parents paying for it. I had scholarships, took out some loans, and had multiple jobs during undergrad. It can be done.
Haley’s thoughts are broken by the “uptalking conversation” between Hilary Beck and Rachel Martin, both juniors who hang out at the Ugly Mug coffee shop where Hayley works. (Super excited to see that Haley is going to continue on her judgments and hateful descriptions of all the other girls. Good times, good times.) [Dove: See, this was my issue with all of the New PHs. The opening chapter was so obnoxious and we’re supposed to root for these hipster morons? Why? They hate everything they walk past.]
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 2 (+1)
They talk so loud at the Ugly Mug that Hayley is always in the know about their boy drama and acne problems, and it makes Haley shudder to think about. She’s quit her job at the Ugly Mug to focus on the Ainsworth instead, and she won’t miss them one bit. Of fucking course she won’t.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 3 (+1)
After some more hating on the girls, Hayley heads off to AP calculus, which is a badass class. She doesn’t realize until she’s already got her stuff ready that she’s sitting next to Adam Scott. They’ve been frenemies since kindergarten, because they’ve been competing to be number one in school ever since Adam came back from winter break able to read chapter books. I note that they manage a decent conversation despite the hardcore competition between them, unlike how Hayley even thinks about any other girl. [Dove: I hate this book. Really hate it.]
Haley decides that Adam is looking good; his shoulders fill out his shirt better, and his curly brown hair is just a little bit shaggy, a big improvement from the buzz cut he’s worn for the past decade.
Adam spent his summer doing a language immersion program in Aixen-Provence in France, and Hayley is super jealous because she was stuck in New Hampshire being a type-A overachiever. She teases him that the Ainsworth people won’t consider his trip academically rigorous enough. Hayley’s also grumpy that Adam still wants the scholarship, because he doesn’t need it the way she does; his dad was a Harvard legacy and corporate lawyer, and his mom is provost at the local university. His family would get him into and pay for any school he wanted.
Hayley decides she shouldn’t be as friendly as she has been in the past. Well, at least she’s going to alienate everyone around her equally now, I guess.
Dr Osborn comes in wearing a chalk-covered corduroy blazer over a t-shirt that reads “why did the chicken cross the mobius strip?” Jake Cross, a thirteen-year-old kid who takes high school classes, laughs so hard he snorts. I am struck by the stereotypical, shallow characters and writing. This is going to be so much fun.
Dr Osborn immediately makes a drink a deriving joke (which, I’ll admit, did make me laugh a little), but none of the other students besides Jake respond. Dr Osborn is a serious teacher despite his dorky sense of humor and chalk-stained clothing, and Hayley scrambles to write down the equations he writes on the board.
Chalk. Fucking chalk. In (checks date) 2013. 20-fucking-13. At a school that has immersion programs and AP courses and rich families.
Davies, they’re probably using interactive whiteboards and Apple laptops and electronic books, not fucking notebooks and pens and chalk and chalkboards, oh my god. Was it Dove who recently talked about how the Point Horror writers were falling into that trend where they write books set in the present day like they were set when those writers were teenagers? Because this feels like it was set in the late 90s or early 2000s. And sure enough, after some brief research, Davies was in her teens in the late 90s and early 2000s (basically the same age Dove and I were). For all the references to Facebook and Instagram, this still feels like it’s a 90s Point Horror trying to be modern, but not in a way that actually works to tap into that nostalgia. (The nostalgia that has us recapping books for years now. We’ve been writing these since January 2013: Funhouse by Diane Hoh was our very first recap. Good lord, that is a long time.) [Dove: Yes, I did mention that, but many people have made the same observation about Twilight too, so it’s an ongoing issue in the least talented areas of YA.]
Hayley’s morning schedule before lunch is: AP Calculus, AP English, AP European History, and gym. That’s a pretty hardcore schedule. Usually, seniors leave the building at lunch. (This is another thing that may be more of a 90s and early 00s than a current day thing; I know a lot of schools locked down their campuses after Columbine.) Hayley, though, eats her PB&J sandwich at school so she can get stuff done. I feel that, Hayley. I work through lunch most days even now, and if I’m not working, I’m probably catching up on some reading. (Not just lunch, either; I like to read through breakfast, and the only time I don’t read or work through dinner is when I’m with Mr Wing.)
Anyway, back on track, Hayley has a long to do list even though it’s the first day of school (I feel that too, Hayley; these details are making me feel very sympathetic toward and interested in you, I must say), starting with selecting editors for the class sections of their yearbook, the Spectrum, which is apparently award winning. She’s procrastinated on that project all summer, because no matter who she picks, someone will get mad. Not a good reason to put it off, especially since you are supposed to be swamped with things to do and also obsessed with being perfect in everything you do so you can get that scholarship. [Dove: I see the word “Spectrum” and immediately think of a 90+ minute loading time for Golden Axe. Just the first level. Once you’ve completed that, you have to flip the tape over and wait again.]
Kayla McDonough: Field hockey, surgically altered nose, model, Hayley thinks she wants the position to ensure pictures of her friends are featured.
Jessica Adamson: Honors student, also applied for the editor in chief position, but Hayley got it instead, but only because the advisor, Mrs Ross, chose; Hayley thinks Jess would have won if it was a student vote, because Jess hosts bonfire parties at her lakeside house and invited both Hacky Sack kids and honors students; plays lacrosse in the spring, attends football games in the fall, wears school colors on spirit day. “In short, she lived the type of laid-back, fun, high school dream life we created in each page of the yearbook layouts. Or, rather, I created in each page of layouts as everyone else was actually out having fun.”
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 4 (+1)
(Hayley makes sure everyone shows up for the group photos, and says that the marching band people try to skip because of the dork factor; UMM, NOT REALLY TRUE OF ANY MARCHING BAND MEMBER I’VE EVER KNOWN. First of all, some of them are damn cool, drummers and guard in particular, and second, they are super fucking proud of all the hard work they do.)
Jess threw a fit when Mrs Ross chose Hayley, and said there was a conflict of interest because Hayley is also editor of the school paper, the Bainbridge Beacon. I’ve mostly seen students either choose newspaper or yearbook (I was newspaper), but it’s not like there’s some huge competition between the two of them that would actually lead to a conflict of interest. Weak argument there, Jess.
Hayley has to decide between “Slacker versus Backstabber” and chooses Kayla, because she’s coming across as really fucking petty. (Hayley admits she’s jealous of Jess, which is not a good fucking reason to reject her when she’s the best candidate.) She also feels like an overworked, underappreciated corporate attorney because of all the work she puts in at school. I was incredibly involved during high school, and worked nearly full time (and more than full time during college), and I am laughing bitterly at you, Hayley. You have no fucking idea about anything.
Hayley heads off to the guidance suite, where she sees Keely’s younger sister, Laurel, who is a freshman and attending a mandatory meeting, and talks to Miss Marsted, the sixty-year-old secretary who own a pie shop downtown with her sister. Hayley turns down fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie. Haley is making terrible decisions. Give me the damn pie. I don’t even like fruit pie most of the time, but that combo is often just bitter enough to cut the sweetness, and it is amazing. Hayley says she’s only there to set up an appointment with Mr Klish to talk about her Ainsworth application. Doing this makes Hayley feel super grown-up, and she pictures herself in ten years as an attorney at a law firm, trying to set up a time to meet with a partner. She’d wear a charcoal suit, wear her hair in a low chignon, and her lips would be a sexy, subtle coral color.
Hayley. You don’t arrange time to meet with a partner. You jump when the partner tells you to get into their office and take a project. [Dove: Or you pull up Outlook and shove in 10 minutes when you think the partner is least likely to want to kill you/die at your feet thanks to the sheer levels of stress found in law firms.]
Hayley has a fucking pink Filofax. A fucking Filofax, and I’m supposed to believe she’s poor enough to desperately need a scholarship? I won’t knock a written planner even in 2013 (if y’all haven’t heard of the massive planner communities that still exist, you are in for a huge surprise), but there’s no way she’d have a Filofax. A cheap $5 Walmart planner, sure. Not a fucking Filofax.
Miss Marsted makes a big deal that she still writes on paper, which, again, people still use planners all the time, but whatever. This one I’ll let go.
The next morning before her meeting, Hayley is getting ready to announce the new Spectrum executive board. She’s on a ton of coffee, so much she’s shaking, though it might be nerves, too; her voice cracks when she talks. Most of their clubs meet during what they call “zero period” before school. That is an interesting choice. Membership has been really down, and I don’t blame them. No way would I want to do meetings before school. (Not to mention, that was when marching band practiced during the fall, so morning meetings would have cut down on my memberships a lot. Marching band is worth getting up at the crack of dawn for practice. Pretty much nothing else would have been.)
(Random Wing fact: Still not a fucking morning person. I do my best work, especially creative work, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. If only the world accommodated that better.)
This recap is at almost 2500 words, and we’ve only just started chapter two, and we haven’t gotten anywhere near a plot that fits the title. It’s going to be a long haul, isn’t it? I may have to summarize more if I’m going to get this done in time for Dove to comment.
Even though she is very good at giving speeches during debate, Hayley struggles to speak in front of the other students, who are Jess and freshmen, basically. Apparently, one of the techniques Hayley learned at debate camp was that raising an eyebrow is a key gesture to make your opponent realize you’re in charge. Dwayne Johnson, is that where you learned it, too? [Dove: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK!]
Hayley decides to ignore Jess and focuses instead on Libby Dorn, who is another senior and has been a part of yearbook all four years of high school. She’s nice enough, but Hayley barely knows anything about her, except that she has four sisters, hangs out with the slam poetry kids and artsy hipster types, and wants to be a poet. Hayley grumps a little to herself that she’s not an artsy type, and Libby hasn’t invited her to sit with them anyway.
Haley, you are obnoxious and make no effort to have friends. Why would anyone invite you to sit with them? You shut everyone out and there’s no opening to befriend you. I’m sure some people would want to do so. You just don’t give anyone a chance.
Finally, she gets on to announcing the editors. Freshman is Dominick Jenson (bleached-blond hair, thick glasses, turns red as a beet and wants to call his mom); sophomore is Christina Jenner (beaming, wears glasses, cello case, was the freshman class editor the year before).
Before she can go farther, Matt Hartnett saunters in. He dresses like all the other guys (jeans and a button-down), but stands out anyway, in part because he’s taller and more built than the other guys, but mostly because he’s “wholly comfortable in his own skin.” Half the female population is in love with him, but he’s never had a serious girlfriend. Haley wonders if he, too, knows there’s more to life than high school.
He apologises for being late (“mad sorry” which made me laugh); he’s been the sports editor since freshman year, and though Haley has to edit his stories pretty hard, she likes his work. He wants to be a sports reporter after college, and Haley likes him — strictly platonically, she is quick to reassure us. [Dove: By this point I am assured that “strictly platonically” is the highest type of feeling Hayley has. She despises girls, and most boys, and barely tolerates the more attractive boys. What a lovely human being she is. I bet she’s the type of person who makes the idiotic comment, “I’m just not a girl’s girl, y’know. Girls are so bitchy.”]
Hayley feels better now that he’s there, it’s like an A+ on a test, a sign that everything is fine. She moves on to the junior editor, and announces it is Kayla — except Kayla isn’t actually there. Hayley braces herself for a reaction from Jess, but she just sits silently at her desk, knuckles turning white from clutching her travel mug. Hayley does the same thing when she’s trying not to cry, and looks away.
Senior class editor is Libby, of course, and Hayley schedules a class editor meeting the next Tuesday morning to talk about stories, but first, they have to come up with a theme and a title. Mrs Ross prompts her to give her idea first, and Hayley at first mumbles and then forces herself to directly state that she wants Ever Upward, because it is inspirational and exemplifies the high school experience on a few levels. (And it’s completely boring.) It’s a classic, she says, and if they use a reference from a song or movie, it dates the book too much.
UMM. Haley. It’s a fucking yearbook. You don’t get much more dated than that. It is literally the book of a specific school year. A dated school year, if you will.
Jessica is no longer close to crying, if she ever was, and says that she doesn’t like it, because it is cheesy. (IT IS.) Haley freaks out about this, even though she knew Jess would argue with whatever she suggested. Haley, you’re going to need to learn to take criticism sooner rather than later. I don’t actually know how anyone makes it through high school without learning that skill, but it happens. A lot. (So many adults I know still can’t take criticism.)
Jess’s idea is something more like “That’s What Friends are For” or “Lean on Me”.
Dionne Warwick “That’s What Friends are For” released 1985.
Bill Withers “Lean On Me” released 1972
Are you trying to tell me those are songs that teenagers in high school in 2013 love enough to name their damn yearbook after? ARE YOU REALLY? [Dove: Hell, I’m nearly the right generation for that, and even I only know the artists, not the specific songs.]
Jess goes on to point out that high school is really all about friendships, and won’t that be the biggest thing Hayley will miss after graduation. That, of course, shakes Haley to the core, and she covers her reaction by writing the names on the board. (THE FUCKING CHALKBOARD I ASSUME.)
She starts thinking about when she was a foursome with Keely, Ingrid, and Emily; they called themselves HIKE, in middle school, they left gym class for HIKE club meetings, and eventually figured out HIKE could also stand for “hot guys we like,” so then they spent a bunch of time writing pro and con lists on each boy, contemplating their kissing potential, and wondering whether they should date them now or the end of high school, when the romance was likely to last longer than a month.
(Probably the middle of high school, if you must. End of high school also sees the end of a lot of relationships. Says the woman who still dates her junior high boyfriend.)
Hayley knew even then that none of the guys would date her; they were drawn to Keely’s confidence, Emily’s short skirts and long mermaid-like hair, and Ingrid’s sense of adventure and ability to flirt. None of them cared about Hayley’s math skills or ability to quote Shakespearean monologues from memory. No matter what she did, she couldn’t compete with the others. Because, of course, everything between teen girls must be a competition.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 10 (+6)
That’s when she began to focus so much on schoolwork and decided to become exceptional, not just smart, because academics was an equation and popularity was confusing.
She snarks with Jess a little longer, and decides that they’ll have a student body vote; everyone in the room can suggest titles and themes, and they’ll send a survey blast out to the student body. (Matt speaks up to say that Ever Upward is a cool title.) Jess gets defensive when Haley says she hopes everyone else will agree, because Haley is the editor and she doesn’t need Jess’s approval. And that is the damn truth. You can claim all you want that you don’t care whether people like you, but you are desperate for validation, Haley, and being a real dick about it to anyone who doesn’t immediately agree with what you suggest.
Matt flirts with her a little after the meeting (though I’m sure she doesn’t consider it flirting, though she blushes a ton during it). Before this can get completely awkward (though it’s mostly there already), she sees Jess “scurrying” out of the guidance office, and immediately assumes Jess was in there talking about her.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 11 (+1)
She’s not a fucking rat, Hayley, and you are turning out to be a terrible person.
Hayley hurries off to the office, which is good, because she has that meeting anyway. Miss Marsted is too busy to talk to her, which annoys Hayley because she wants to know what Jess could possibly have been doing in there. Certainly nothing to do with her own class schedule or future plans, I’m sure. It all revolves around you, Hayley.
Miss Marsted sends her on into Mr Klish’s corner office to wait for him. He’s a University of Pennsylvania grad, apparently. Hayley always focuses on one specific photo subject, a guy wearing rectangular glasses and a checkered blue scarf; his curly dark hair flops onto his forehead, and he’s caring a copy of Plato’s Republic.
He pretty much represents the type of person she wants to meet in college: intense, committed, focused. And she makes up little stories about his background. Oh god, Hayley, slow your roll.
(She wants to go to UPenn, by the way.)
Mr Klish has some concerns about her being both the editor in chief of the yearbook as well as working on the newspaper, and whether she can keep up her academic record, especially in light of the obsessiveness of the Ainsworth scholarship committee. He knows that Jess wanted the yearbook position, so if Hayley stepped down, she could help Jess in an advisory capacity.
So that’s why Jess went to the guidance office. Of course it really did have everything to do with Hayley. The world revolves around Hayley, I see.
They talk about how she needs to think over her schedule, come up with a list of priorities, and get rid of the things she doesn’t need anymore. Hayley pretends that she appreciates his concern, and thinks about how she likes to dress more formally, focusing on style blogs for professional twentysomethings, because she wants to lok like an Ainsworth scholar. Because that’s what’s important, obviously.
She tries to push him off, but he keeps asking questions, including when she’ll sleep. She pops off the cliched “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” and she even knows it’s cliche, especially for a yearbook editor. She’s on edge, though, and can’t seem to help it.
I’ll say it again: Learn to take criticism, Hayley.
Mr Klish goes on to tell her that the Ainsworth committee looks at her online presence as well as everything else, so she should clean up her “FaceSpace [and] Tweeter.” Oh my god.
Hayley doesn’t use any of those things, though she sometimes creeps the others’ social media pages. Including Matt’s Twitter feed. But it’s totally platonic, right, Haley?
The committee will be announcing the state semifinalists in a week, and then there’s be an interview in front of a board and a competition. Haley has been studying the protocol for weeks:
The semifinals were modeled after the interviews done at Oxford and Cambridge, where the interviewers would ask random questions that you were supposed to answer off the top of your head. Past topics had been connecting Lady Gaga’s music to Mozart’s, how The Decameron and Jersey Shore were similar, and the Ophelia trope as exemplified by Miley Cyrus. They were bizarre questions, and that was the point — if you were Ainsworth material, you’d figure out a way to answer them that drew on your knowledge from a broad range of subjects.
No lie, those sound like amazing essay topics, and I’d like to do some writing for them.
When she leaves, she finds Adam eating a piece of pie and jiggling his foot up and down “as if he were a toddler who really, really had to pee.” UM. Or as if he’s as hyped on caffeine as you are, you jackass.
They snark some more over the Ainsworth competition, until Haley heads out into the hall, leaving him to his own meeting. She sees Matt with his arm around Erin Carlson, a pretty sophomore theater girl with bony shoulders. Awesome, throw some body snark in there too, Haley. Haley feels betrayed for no good reason, but tells herself it doesn’t matter. Soon she’ll have a UPenn boy or even a Parisian dude, and it will be worth the wait.
Yes, yes, do focus on a guy to make your life complete, that’s super healthy.
Oh god, we’re only just starting chapter three.
Hayley doesn’t leave school until sunset, because she got to talking with the debate instructor, Mr Greenberg; debate this year isn’t essential to her college applications, because it doesn’t start until December, but she’s super excited about it. She even tries to say that she just wants to have fun, she doesn’t care about winning, but Mr Greenberg calls her a warrior, and says she can’t turn off that competitive streak, she’ll want to win when the season starts.
Hayley likes being called a warrior, and thinks that Ainsworth is life or death, and a ticket to having an actual life in college, not just four more years of pushing herself.
She heads to her car, a tan 1988 Cougar she bought from a neighbor, and heads home. She lives pretty far out in a ramshackle farmhouse with her mom. It’s owned by one of the owners of the local used bookstore The Sound and the Story; her mom works there, and they live rent free in the house.
People always give things to her mom, because she’s beautiful and has an aura of fragility around her. She’s dreamy and pretty much useless when it comes to taking care of practical things, but Haley isn’t as judgmental of her as she is the girls at school. They’re a team; her mom the dreamer who gives her a sense of possibility, and Haley the worker who made everything fall into place.
Sadie, Haley’s poodle-terrier doggy, greets her when she gets home, and Haley finds her mother drinking tea on a sofa with her boyfriend, Geoff, who is overweight, red-faced, and has salt-and-pepper hair. He looks more like her dad than her boyfriend, Haley thinks, and she hates him.
Hayley doesn’t understand what her mom sees in Geoff, and is afraid she’s dating him mostly for his money.
She makes herself another PB&J and takes it, and the dog, up to her attic bedroom. She thinks about Mr Klish’s social media rant; what she didn’t tell him is that she Googles herself almost constantly and knows exactly what will show up. Yet another sign of how desperately she needs validation from everyone around her. That must be difficult, going through life wanting everyone to at least agree with your ideas and work and recognize that you are smart and talented. Everyone needs validation sometimes, but constantly needing it from an outside source will only lead to heartbreak.
This time, when Hayley Googles herself (which, even this many years since Google became the popular search engines, still sounds like ridiculous slang for masturbation), at the bottom of the third page she finds a link to a Facebook page for Hayley Kathryn Westin.
The picture with it is a full-body shot of a girl wearing a rainbow bikini and covered in whipped cream. It looks just like Hayley, even though it is impossible. The status update was written at 9:02 a.m., when Hayley was in AP English discussion the meaning of magic and superstition in Macbeth. (At least it’s not Hamlet, I guess, like in a couple of the other Point Horrors: Defriended and Followers, which is also by Anna Davies. [Dove: And is also terrible.])
Nothing better than midweek madness. Bonus points if it’s worth college hotties!
There are two comments beneath it, including one from Keely:
I thought you were good at math? Apparently not, cuz Hayley does not equal hotties in any way.
More like midweek sadness … for the dudes who have to hang out with you.
That second one is Keely.
Hayley clicks through the rest of the photos: that girl in red short shorts and a white furry crop top and a Santa hat, her shoulder-length hair streaked with blonde (even though Hayley has never used hair dye), that girl hooking up with a muscly dude (even though Hayley has never been kissed), that girl doing a ton of things, and though Hayley knows it cannot possibly be her, she’s swept away by the similarities, how perfectly Hayley she looks, despite the things she’s wearing and doing.
She decides that Adam must have gotten the same speech from Mr Klish about social media, knew there was no way he had a chance at the Ainsworth if she was also competing, and mocked up a page. That’s some pretty quick, detailed work if that’s true.
Now that she has what she thinks is a logical explanation, she looks through all the rest of the profile. It has forty friends already and seventeen pictures, including one of her kissing a guy, her bra strap visible as her tank top slipped off her shoulder.
This prompts a memory from ninth grade, the first day she’d gotten any grade below a B. She had a C- on a geometry project, and she knew it was her own fault, because she’d barely studied. Adam, of course, got an A. This was her impetus for quitting field hockey to focus on academics. She knew she couldn’t compete with Keely, Ingrid, or Emily when it came to their social lives, so all she had left was academics. Because of course she can’t live without beating her alleged best friends at something.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 14 (+3)
Coach Smith wouldn’t even let her quit privately, but made her come to Saturday practice to turn in her uniform in front of everyone. Hayley tried to explain why she was doing it to Keely, Emily, and Ingrid, but they didn’t take her seriously at first.
That afternoon, she realizes she hasn’t heard from them, even though they always hung out on Saturday afternoons. The only messages she had all day were emails from the popular boys telling her she’s a loser. This is out of the blue, and it takes Hayley a moment to figure out why: Keely, Emily, and Ingrid scanned every single HIKE list she’d written and put it on her Facebook wall. The worst part was that she didn’t actually like any of those guys, she only wrote it to try to fit in; they were the guys Keely talked about all the time.
Adam helps her trace the IP address (we assume to Keely, though it’s not explicitly said), and she deletes everything and works on scrubbing all of her personality out of her internet presence. She also reinvents herself in person. She gets rid of her bright camisoles and skinny jeans, removes the pictures from her bulletin board, and changes her handwriting from bubbly, oversized script in purple ink to small, neat print. She hides how much it hurts her; only Adam sees her cry.
Back in the presence, she calls Adam demanding a meeting at the Ugly Mug in half an hour; she tells him that she knows what he did, and it’s harassment, and if he doesn’t fix it, she’s calling the police.
I like that someone is taking online bullying seriously, but it loses some of its effect because it’s coming from Hayley, who we’ve already seen overreact to everything. That undermines the seriousness of online bullying, which is a real and terrible thing. [Dove: Yeah, Hayley makes Jessica Wakefield look like a sensitive human being with a well-reasoned thought process.]
Hayley immediately heads to the Ugly Mug after he agrees to meet her there; he’s not there yet by the time she arrives, because it’s been about thirty seconds not thirty minutes. She briefly talks to Percy the barista (a philosophy major), and gets her the usual, a double-shot latte, even though she knows she’s already too keyed up for that much caffeine. She doesn’t want him to ask questions, though.
When Adam arrives, she immediately throws the Facebook page at him, and accuses him of creating it to sabotage her. Adam looks it over, but tells her he didn’t make it and it’s not her, though maybe it’s a decent Photoshop job. Whoever made it found a girl who looked similar and morphed some features together. He’s not even sure that’s possible (most definitely is), and he’d never cheat to win the Ainsworth, and they’ve always been decent at separating friendship and competition. Which is more than she’s done for any of the girls around her, of course.
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 15 (+1)
He brushes it off as unimportant, because it’s not the entire world is Googling her (dirty), but she points out that the Ainisworth committee most certainly will be. She finally agrees that Adam didn’t do it, and she’s heartbroken that it means someone hates her enough to do it in the first place, and she has no idea who it might be. [Dove: My first thought would be: anyone. Literally anyone.]
Adam tries to calm her, saying that it will be taken down as soon as she tells Mr Klish and that surely the Ainsworth committee isn’t doing recon yet, when the finalists haven’t even been announced (though very well could have been decided, so your logic is flawed, Adam).
Hayley starts to blame Keely for it, after her dig about Facebook that morning (Jesus, has all of this been only one day? This book is going to take forever to recap!), but Adam says it could have been someone from camp, too. She snaps at him about how she’s just trying to be her best, not brag about things to other people, and everyone just keeps trying to sabotage her, even Jess. Adam isn’t convinced on that part, because he doesn’t think Jess is the sabotage type, but Hayley remains unconvinced.
However, they both agree that it seems more like a Keely prank than something Jess would do, because Jess always plays within the rules (like going to Mr Klish when she’s mad about not getting what role she wanted on the yearbook staff). Adam does tell her that she can be intense and intimidating, and her attitude might rub people the wrong way.
That really hurts her, though she hides it. She hates that he thinks of her as an intense, intimidating weirdo just like Keely does. Dude. You are intense and intimidating! Those are good things, no matter what the world tries to tell girls and women. Embrace your fucking self (oh god, that sounds like a masturbation euphemism too) and find people who like that. They exist! Even in high school! I promise!
Adam leaves, but Hayley is ignoring him at that point, because she’s received another message from Keely on that Facebook page: God, Hayley, if you’re actually willing to be normal, then….
Hayley so badly wants to know what follows the “then” that she starts talking out loud. She heads home because she has a ton of work to do, but Facebook has ruined it for her.
At home, she tries to go to sleep, because one piece of advice she follows (or tries to follow, at least) from her mom’s hippie magazines is to not react immediately in a crisis (TOO LATE, after that confrontation with Adam), but to let your dreams help guide her decisions. She doesn’t believe in the dream part, but she does think getting some rest before she does anything else is probably a good idea. Unfortunately, she can’t sleep.
She tries to watch Mean Girls for awhile, but the plot hits too close to home, and so she goes back to bed. She can’t stop thinking about the eyes from the photo of that girl. “Silvery and shiny, like the underside of a fish caught from a pond, my eyes had always been my trademark, the one thing I really liked about the way I looked. But now, they didn’t feel like mine.”
Pretty sure if your eyes are silvery and shiny, you should probably get them checked out.
I do like this description of how she feels, though, betrayed and violated. It reads like a realistic response to cyber bullying, especially one that takes her image and uses it without her being in control.
Finally she gives up on sleep and instead works on the agenda for the next yearbook meeting. At some point, she falls asleep on her laptop, and doesn’t wake up until her mother wakes her up at eight a.m., which means she’s missed yearbook and AP calculus. UMM. Just how early do your classes start? I will give her yearbook, but an actual class before eight a.m. seems extreme.
When she finally gets to school, she finds a bunch of seniors, including Keely, huddling around an iPhone. Hayley decides that they must be talking about her and how easy it is to freak her out and cause a hashtag. She tries to ignore them and runs into the main office to get a late pass from Mrs Miller, which tells her they’ll make an exception for her, because she’s usually so responsible.
On her way to check in with Mrs Ross to make sure no one made a critical yearbook decision without her, she runs into Matt, who tells her that Jess took over the meeting and started dividing the calendar into deadlines. He thinks it’s a great idea, that Haley was sleeping off a party at the local university and having her minions do the grunt work for her.
When Hayley asks what he’s talking about, he says he saw her Facebook page, and she should really change her privacy settings if she wants to party that hard.
Matt then asks if she wants to hang at Alyssa’s barn that night, which is apparently a legendary place to go. She starts to feel sick and runs off to the bathroom, leaving Matt to make assumptions about how much she partied. Even the freshmen she finds in the bathroom know that she’s the girl who parties with the frat guys at the university. This is not going well for Hayley so far.
She goes straight to see Mr Klish, and interrupts a meeting with Adam. She immediately jumps back into suspecting him, until Mr Klish says he called them both down to tell them they are both Ainsworth finalists. The semifinals are the next weekend, and Mr Klish can’t take them because he has renaissance festival stuff to do (go Mr Klish!), but Adam and Hayley can both get themselves to Concord.
Hayley gets Adam to leave and then talks to Mr Klish about the Facebook page and her being impersonated. He immediately starts sounding cold and accusatory to her, and wants to see the page. When she tries to bring it up, though, she can’t find a user under that name.
He’s confused by all this, and she doesn’t push it any more.
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1 (+1) (“You say you found a corpse of a thirteen year old girl on the beach? Oh, you’re just pulling my leg.” When the protagonist experiences something genuinely frightening, such as finding a corpse, or that someone has been in their room while they were home alone, and it is treated as an attention-seeking prank. Or, when something is done that is written off as a prank or a joke, but is actually pretty damned spiteful.)
She talks to Adam after, and he invites her to study with him that weekend to practice for the interview. She doesn’t want to do it that night, even though she doesn’t plan to go to the party at the barn, but they’re going to meet at the Ugly Mug again.
She’s about to talk to him about something, but then Keely, Ingrid, and Emily come down the hall. Emily offers her a small smile and says that she’ll see her that night. Hayley immediately decides that she will surprise them by actually showing up, in part to shock them and in part to give herself a story to fall back on if the fake profile actually shows up again.
That night, she sees Keely off in a corner with Garret Evans, and Kayla huddled with her best friend Alana, and a few guys playing cards outside the barn. Hayley is wearing a plain gray v-neck t-shirt under a Bainbridge hoodie, and she thought she’d be underdressed after seeing the fake profile pictures, but everyone is dressed the same way. Also, she’s always thought the parties were going to be huge and epic, but this is quiet and small.
Before she can leave, though, she steps on a branch, and draws Matt’s attention. He asks what she’s doing there, as if he didn’t invite her earlier that day. Hayley says she needs to talk to Keely. An expression Hayley can’t read slips across Keely’s face (amusement, confusion, fear, Hayley wonders), and they head out of the barn to talk.
Hayley says she wants to talk about her Facebook profile, because it’s not her. Keely is ignored and asks what she wants, for Keely to unfriend it or something? Hayley then asks if she put it up because it feels like someone’s sabotaging her. Keely immediately denies it, and even sort of apologises about the midweek sadness comment, because she doesn’t want to torment her. Also, she doesn’t have time to come up with an entirely fake profile. She says she knows they’ve been through stuff and that Hayley hates her because she’s always glaring at her, but she would never ruin her life. When Hayley points out that she did once, Keely is shocked that she’s still hung up on the HIKE thing, which she did when they were just children and she was mad at her. Freshman year isn’t exactly a decade ago, Keely, but fair enough point.
Haley says that it seems like something Keely would do, and if she comes clean about it, she won’t press charges. Keely arches an eyebrow, and Haley remembers that she hadn’t learned the trick from debate but from Keely. Convenient that you forgot that until now, Haley. Too, I want to know whether Keely picked it up from Dwayne Johnson or not.
(Random Wing fact: I also do the skeptical one eyebrow arch. Often subconsciously. It’s just how my face moves.)
Keely says it sounds like a stupid prank (Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2 (+1)), but people like it, as long as she gets rid of the sexy Santa picture, because the other ones were cute, and Haley used to be fun, and could be again if she’d just live a little. Hayley is shocked that her tone isn’t mocking and is even a little friendly.
There’s a crash in the woods, but they don’t see anything near them.
Haley full out apologises, including about the HIKE thing, and admits that she was mad because it seemed like Hayley thought she was better than everyone else and hadn’t even talked to her best friends about quitting field hockey. Hayley turned her back on them, so they turned their backs on her.
See, Haley? Your point of view is not always right. And while this is super realistic for a teenager (and, hell, for many, many adults), I’m glad to see the story is pushing back against her assumptions, at least in some places.
Hayley starts to wonder what life would have been like if they’d stayed friends, and then asks Keely to pinky swear she didn’t do it, because it was their childhood oath, and this is all kind of adorable despite how annoyed I am otherwise with Hayley as a protagonist.
They have a few more minutes of awkwardness, and then Keely heads back to what she was doing, and Haley wanders over to talk to Matt. They end up bumping heads pretty hard, and then he teases her a little about talking to herself, because it makes him feel left out, and it’s rude to have conversations in front of other people. She tries to come up with an appropriately flirty response, but struggles, because while she can talk to herself easily, she has a hard time with other people.
During this awkward moment (and there are so many of them), she gets a text from Adam about going over the Ainsworth stuff, and he invites her over that night, again, even though they’re meeting in the morning. When Matt sees who she’s texting, he apologises for interrupting her talk with her boyfriend. She’s quick to set the record straight, and at first she thinks he says that’s good for him (Matt), but when she asks him to repeat himself, it’s just that he (Adam) seemed to be.
Before things can get even weird, Erin runs up to Matt and begs his help with flip cup.
Hayley heads home and watches Love Actually to remind herself that meet-cute situations never happen in real life. That’s not true either; I’ve had at least one perfect meet-cute in my life. Not that the relationship worked out long-term, but still, it was a delight when it happened. (Spotted her across a crowded room. Recognised her tattoo because it was a fannish one. Adored her to no end.)
The next day (oh, god, how am I this many words into the recap and we still haven’t even made it to the Ainsworth semifinals?!), she and Adam go over potential Ainsworth questions (the first one we see is “What’s the similarity between the American Liberty Movement of 1934 and the Tea Party of today,” which could actually be a very interesting paper to read). They’re both wearing Harvard shirts (Adam from his dad’s time at Harvard Law, Haley in her mom’s shirt. UMM. Haley, your mom went to HARVARD. I have my doubts about how much you need this scholarship the more you talk, because you have yet to mention that, oh, your mother desperately needed scholarships to go to college or anything), and Adam jokes about them being twins. Considering I think Adam wants to get into her pants, this calls for the incest tag. Good to see the old incestuous thread running into modern Point Horror too.
Hayley says that the similarity is the idea of states’ rights, but that the question isn’t hard enough and he should come up with a better one. Unfortunately, that’s one of the questions Klish gave them. Haley still brushes it off, mocks a hipster in the corner, and then asks “Is it possible for someone to suddenly find him or herself attracted to someone they’d never noticed before? And compare the concept to the theory of relativity.”
Adam is understandably dubious that the question came from their info packet. Haley admits it didn’t, and Adam lets it go, demanding a new question. They’re teasing each other the way they did when they were debate partners, before all the Ainsworth stress, and Haley finds it both weird and reassuring.
Then she gets a text: All work and no play….. It won’t make me go away. P.S. You give Keely way too much credit.
Hayley deletes it and brushes it off as a spam text, and then asks the next question (“If ancient Rome had television, what would the top five reality programs be, and why?” which, again, would be an interesting essay to read). Hayley zones out while he answers, until Jess walks in with her boyfriend, Robbie.
Jess comes straight up to Hayley and confronts her about actually being around, because she’s been partying a ton, and shows her the Facebook profile back. This time, the picture is real; it is a shot of her standing next to Matt and holding two bottles, taken in that brief window of time before they knocked heads and she left.
She accuses Jess of taking the picture and watching her, but Jess says that she looked at the profile pic and saw her partying with her yearbook staffers, which is sketchy.
UMM. Not fucking really, Jess. Considering they are all in high school. It’s not like they are kids and she’s their fifty year old boss. Get some perspective, please.
Jess says if she doesn’t step down as editor in chief of the yearbook, she’ll tell everyone about the Facebook page, and smarms that she’s not comfortable being led by an editor with such clear dubious judgment.
Instead of having Hayley’s back, Adam packs up, says that for all he knows, she’s starting all the drama, and he doesn’t want to have any part of it. He leaves her alone, and Jess smirks at her and pushes for the position again.
Hayley races out to cry in her car, and is furious and heartbroken that she made one mistake of holding a drink and now everything was falling apart. People don’t like her, they respect her, but they won’t even do that anymore. I don’t think as many people respect you as you think; I imagine a lot of people are worried about how obsessive you are, actually.
By Sunday, the Facebook profile has disappeared again, and for Hayley, that just proves Jess’s guilt. Despite that, Hayley is going to resign, because of the blackmail. She struggles to hold everyone’s attention during the meeting, and then steps down as editor in chief, suggesting Jessica take her place, and then she runs out of the room.
Matt follows her, and when she tells him she’s fine, he points out he didn’t ask, because he assumed she’s somewhere between crappy and sucky, which is true. He gives her a hug, and it helps her calm down, and then they go get coffee together. Instead of going back to the Ugly Mug, where she’ll just think more about Jess’s blackmail, they head to the Coffee Hut instead, a generic chain in the strip mall across town. Matt turns on the radio, and is blasted with 80s rock, because of course Hayley loves 80s rock. (This ties back into that thing where the author writes the story as if it’s set when they were kids.)
Hayley ends up paying for Matt’s hot chocolate as well as her coffee, because he doesn’t even think about paying for it, just heads over to the spot to wait for his drink. Awkward. They sit outside after, and Matt tells her about how he didn’t get captain of the hockey team last year, and how bummed he was, especially when the coach told him that even though he was more talented, the guy who won captain just wanted it more, and passion always wins. That is a load of crap, and Matt pretty much says that, too.
They talk a little more, and Hayley finds it weird that Matt, big man on campus, doesn’t drink coffee even though everyone else does. (I don’t either.) He’s flirting with her a little, but then she says they need to head back to school. She does thank him for kind of saving her day, though, which is cool.
Jess tracks her down at the end of the day to get some budget stuff from her. She’s talking in a very small voice and tells Hayley she doesn’t have to hate her, which is seriously fucked up after blackmailing her. Hayley accuses her of posting the fake profile, and Jess says all she did was find it. A bunch of people end up listening to this fight. Jess continues to defend herself, and eventually, Hayley backs down and goes home.
She smells just a hint of smoke, like someone who had just smoked a cigarette had walking through the room, but her mom and Geoff aren’t home and don’t smoke. Haley calls for Sadie, but she’s fine, and Hayley can’t find anything out of place.
The Facebook profile stays down, but other things start happening: her Bainbridge student card is missing, she gets a no ID available missed call, and her email is temporarily locked down. And then, the Friday before the Ainsworth interview, she can’t find the thin silver bracelet that her mom got upon her acceptance to Harvard and which her mom passed on to her for luck.
(Her mom is going out with “Geofferson” tonight, which is not only an unusual spelling of that name, but not at all what she’s called him before, so clearly, Jeff was changed to Geoff for some reason. Ridiculous.)
Hayley wakes up the next morning feeling sick, and when she heads downstairs, finds her mom working on a spinach and egg white omelette which she makes the morning of any big academic event that Hayley attends.
(And then there’s another reference to Geofferson, even though they mostly call him Geoff. It’s weird, and if it is intentional, that is also weird.)
As she’s leaving, her mom says that everything isn’t as simple as it seems, and that sticks with Hayley as she tries to go over potential questions and answers for her interview. Adam pulls up right at eight a.m., playing the familiar 70s guitar riffs he always listens to before debates. [Dove: 70s and 80s music? Gosh this class is just so retro.] They always get donuts before they leave town, because a sugar rush subdues her car sickness. That seems unlikely and a recipe for a disgusting mess, but okay.
When Haley goes to pay for her donuts, she finds that she’s out of money, even though she swears she had at least $40 in there.
They’ve just hit the highway when she gets sick and makes Adam pull over at the nearest gas station. She vomits in the bathroom, splashes cold water on her face, and then returns the bathroom key to the cashier, who tells her she thought she’d already left. Hayley ignores this. I note it.
Hayley sleeps for the rest of the drive, and wakes up feeling worse than ever. She doesn’t understand how she could be sick, because she’d barely eaten a PB&J and only drank water and coffee. Hmm, wonder what was spiked.
When she checks in, the woman giving her information calls her the infamous Haley, which does not bode well. She reads through the program and finds her bio, which is not the one she sent in:
Hayley Kathryn Westin: In addition to striving to be the best in everything she does, including latte drinking and pantyhose wearing, Hayley also finds time to watch and collect chick flicks — the cheesier, the better. Her greatest ambition is to head to an Ivy League university. There, she’ll continue to pad her résumé with impressive-sounding activities and acting like she’s better than everyone else.
She doesn’t understand how the Ainsworth people hadn’t realized it was a cruel joke, how they let it through anyway. Before she can go demand answers, the event begins, and she can no longer leave the room until the first interview is done.
Again Haley starts to blame Adam, because she apparently has no sense of creativity and can’t do anything but cycle between the same three suspects.
First interviewer up is Jane Jensen, a girl with a babyish voice from a private school where students choose a moniker to describe their inner lives, like Peace, Tranquility, or Chaos. She’s going to sing a song, even though it isn’t a talent show, and Hayley overhears two girls whispering about whether the girl on stage is Hayley, because they’re both idiots. Ugh. The judge won’t let Jane sing, and instead asks her about the trope of the stranger in nineteenth century fiction.
Hayley is called up, and Dr Schorr tells her that they’re all thrilled to meet her in person after her colorful biography. She ignores the laughter, and gets the question, What does it mean to take someone’s car? It is a simple question on the surface, but becomes complicated once you try to give an answer.
Here is Hayley’s response:
“I’m so glad you asked that question. As many of you noticed, and as Dr. Schorr so kindly mentioned, my biography is colorful. Everyone who’s seen it assumes that’s who I am, and I’d assume that, too, if I read it. As humans, we take information at face value and assign ownership based on assumption. If someone is in a car, we assume they have ownership, or, at least temporary custody of the vehicle. If someone has biographical information attached to their name, that’s their identity. And this is a system that worked for a long time, when there could be a one-to-one relationship. But now, we’ve become a society of shape-shifters [Wing: Needs more werewolves.],” I ad-libbed, noticing how some of the professors were nodding appreciatively. My stomach had stopped rumbling. Was this working?
I continued to talk about ownership being fleeting in our Wikipedia- and Pinterest-obsessed society. I couldn’t help smiling at the committee. And then, I took a step forward to directly address the panel.
“Finally, I hope I didn’t interrupt the Ainsworth process with the biographical submission. While it’s not one that I wrote, I will take responsibility for it….” At this, I made eye contact with Dr. Schorr. Witty remark. Bring it home, coached the calm, detached debate-champ voice in my head. “But I’d prefer to take the car.”
That is actually not a terrible answer at all. I would have liked to have heard more of the part about ownership being fleeting, but I like the overall idea.
Everyone applauds her riotously, but she barely notices, because she can see the audience for the first time, and sees her doppelgänger. Hayley chases after her, but can’t catch up. She asks the doorman to get her a cab, because she feels like crap still and can’t wait for Adam to finish his interview. She needs to hang on to her sanity and not give in to how crazy she feels. Fuck you, Hayley.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 (+1) (Essentially, “crazy” is a blanket term for a bad person with no qualms about killing anyone and everyone. Often because they are “crazy”. Because that’s how mental health works.)
You do not feel crazy. You feel betrayed and angry and scared and gas lighted, maybe, but not crazy. Because that’s not how crazy works, and also, people who are actually crazy, people who have mental illnesses, manage to do things while they’re fucking crazy, so being crazy isn’t the end of all your success and your life, fuck.
Hayley takes the cab home, pays $100 for the privilege, and then collapses on teh couch.
Geoff and her mom take her out to dinner that night, at Armenio’s, a pizza place in the center of town. Hayley’s still not feeling much better after her nap. She continues to be worried about losing her mind, my hate for her continues to grow, and everything is just a joy over here.
Hayley fights with her mom and Geoff, they cancel dinner and head home, and Hayley gets a text on the way: That was a good show today. Maybe too good. Ever heard the phrase ‘on thin ice’? Better lace up…
Her mom and Geoff keep talking about her as if she’s not there, and Hayley thinks about how she’s been through a battle today, and did well, but she’s in the middle of a war and doesn’t even know whom she’s fighting.
When they get home, Sadie is freaking out, jumping and barking, but the house seems to be the same and Hayley starts to relax for the first time. Her mom is going to spend the night with Geoff because Hayley needs her rest. UMM. If you’re so worried about her health and her mental state, why the fuck aren’t you sticking around to take care of her?!
It doesn’t quite fit the trope, but it’s getting a point anyway.
Parents? What parents?: 1 (+1) (They’re in fucking Europe. They’re always in fucking Europe.)
Then Hayley notices a new picture of a girl on the fridge. It’s always been covered in pictures of her; it’s a girl, maybe five or six, with long, tangled, sun-highlighted hair that fell past her shoulders. However, both Hayley and Keely had uneven bowl-shaped haircuts at that age, because they played endless hours of beauty parlor and apparently their parents never stopped them from cutting each other’s hair.
Sadie has calmed down, Hayley pushes her mom to leave, because of course she does, and then she searches the house. Nothing is out of place, except that her bracelet is back. She runs out of the house, but no one is actually chasing her. She stares at her house from the outside for awhile, and even though she thinks it is empty, she knows she can’t go back inside. Way to leave your dog to whatever intruder you think is coming and going, Hayley.
Instead of going home, Hayley goes back to the barn. Alyssa greets her, thanks her for coming, talks about how great it is that she’s no longer stuck-up and annoying. Keely, Ingrid, and Emily are there, of course. Keely comes over, and it seems they are friends again; she wants Hayley to change into something cuter, and tells her that Will has been asking for her all night, looking for a repeat performance.
A repeat performance of what Haley wonders.
Apparently, she was at a party, hooked up with Will, and there are a ton of incriminating photos floating around somewhere. Keely tells her that she can be both fun and smart, it doesn’t have to be either or, which is a good point that is getting lost in this mess of mystery. [Dove: In fact, given that “fun Hayley” is ruining her life, it feels like the book’s message is: NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE, ONLY READ SCHOOL BOOKS, NEVER HAVE FUN.]
She and Matt end up alone together, and then head back to her house. Sadie growls at first, then starts joyful barking when she opens the door. Hayley can smell gardenias and jasmine that seems out of place. Gee, I wonder if someone has been in your house, HAYLEY. Good lord.
When Hayley goes to get drinks for them, she realises the picture of the girl is gone from the fridge. They talk awhile about what it’s like to be Hayley Westin, brilliant scholar in the making and perfection. They’re flirting, though Hayley doesn’t seem to recognise this. (I don’t blame her for that. I don’t really notice that either.)
Turns out, Matt used to be a spelling bee genius, even made nationals, but after they moved to town when he was eight, he decided he wanted to relax and be happy. Hayley actually says that all his potential is wasted, which is the same thing his parents say, and a really dick move. He waves it off, though, and continues with his point that quitting is good, because it allows you to figure out what you want to do by trying things and quitting them when they aren’t something you really like. And this is a great point. Learning to say no to things and learning to quit things is a lie skill that not everyone has. (I had to work very hard to learn them, for example, because I am also a type a overachiever and have obsessive tendencies as a part of my mental illness.)
They talk awhile longer, this time about dating and things, and then Matt starts to make pancakes for them both, because he is both charming and ridiculous. While he’s cooking, Haley checks her email. She has a message from the Ainsworth committee, and Leah Kirkpatrick has died. She’s the girl from the interviews with whom Hayley had the briefest of conversations while waiting for her cab. Leah died in a car crash, apparently, and immediately Haley wonders that if she’d spent more time talking to her, if they’d gone to lunch like Leah suggested, would Leah be alive still, or would they both be dead.
She tells Matt about it, and then they sit down to pancakes and talk about death and how no one knows when it’s coming for them. Matt doesn’t think he’d regret anything if he died right then, but Haley would, because she was almost everything. She’s never made it to the point where she can let herself be happy, but she’s sure she will be when she is valedictorian, an Ainsworth scholar, etc. etc. etc. The arrival fallacy, where you think you’ll be happy when you reach a certain destination, but you never actually reach that point because you are always wanting just one more thing to be happy. It is a terrible way to live, and it doesn’t work.
They talk more about college and becoming things and what does and doesn’t matter, and then he kisses her. They make out for awhile, until she stops them, and then they fall asleep together on the couch.
She wakes up to him snoring next to her and the elastic from her pantyhose digging into her hip. She’s been wearing them for more than 24 hours. Gross, Hayley. He has to leave for soccer practice, they’re awkward again, he doesn’t seem to remember their make-out, and all too quickly, she’s left alone.
Inside, in the kitchen, she finds a tiny, pink baby shoe, a yellowing envelope, and a note: Don’t worry, Hayley. Some of us don’t ever find our soul mates. And some of us need to search a little harder. You need to get a clue. But for now, I’m giving you one.
She screams, and then Adam rings the doorbell. He was on his way to talk to her, heard her screaming, and is now worried about her. Plus with the girl dying and the Ainsworth schedule being changed, he knows she doesn’t deal well with change like that. She tells him she needs to be alone, and though he’s hurt, eventually he takes off, and she can finally open the envelope. She’s still certain that Keely is pranking her, because of course we’re back to that.
Instead, it is a letter her mom wrote:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I don’t expect you to understand about the babies, or about the adoption arrangements. And I’m not asking you to. I’m also not asking for forgiveness, as I’ve done nothing wrong, or for understanding, as I doubt it’s something you’re capable of. What I ask is that you realize that I’m done with both of you. I’m giving my children up for adoption, and I hope they know that it’s not because I don’t love them. Because I do. It’s because I am scared of what it would be like for James and me to be parents. I don’t want us to be like you. I don’t want my children growing up in a large, silent house afraid to touch or say the wrong thing. I don’t want them always being afraid. I want them to learn that life is messy and big and raw and real. And I know this will give them what they need. I always thought
Oh, good, there’s some sort of secret adoption plot. I LOVE THOSE SO MUCH YOU KNOW. *sets everything on fire*
Hayley does some research at the library in her mom’s office, and finds a book her mother hid from her last time she visited: Chaucer and Philosophy by James Thomson-Thurm. Per the letter, she knows the babies’ dad was named James, and she wonders if this is her dad, then decides he has to be. He has the same smile she does.
Then she finds a lockbox with a sonogram inside. Sure enough, twin girls.
Hayley flees the library, because she’s shocked. She’s always been a team with her mom, and her mom told her everything, or so she thought. They talked about how sad she was to find her dad was dead, even though he had shunned her, and how happy she was when Geoff said he loved her for the first time.
In the middle of all this, she gets a text from her mom saying that she and Geoff are going to Boston overnight, because why in the world would she want to be around her daughter in the middle of a super stressful academic time her during her senior year? Clearly no parent needed.
Parents? What parents?: 2 (+1)
Hayley goes to Leah’s memorial, and her grandmother attacks Hayley, saying she was there at the last with Leah, at the hospital, and heard her scream. Now Hayley wonders if her secret twin sister killed Leah. Life is really going well for Hayley.
Instead of going home that night, Hayley goes to school and sleeps in the yearbook room. She didn’t find much information about the James she thinks is her dad (scholar of medieval history, lots of articles on Chaucer, has two kids).
When school starts, she gets called to the guidance office, and is sure that she’s being called down because everyone can see she’s snapped. Sure enough, they want to check on her because of the Ainsworth stress. Instead of Mr Klish, though, she ends up with Miss Keeshan, a brand new social worker excited to be at the school. She’s only twenty-six, so less than ten years older than Hayley.
Hayley tells Miss Keeshan about the fake bio, and suddenly Miss Keeshan starts taking notes like things are serious and not as gentle as she was before. Helpful, Miss K. Hayley actually admits that she’s still trying to figure out who is sabotaging her, impersonating her. Miss K starts talking to her in a way that makes Hayley feel like she’s being treated as if she’s some sort of murderer, and Hayley is super uncomfortable.
There’s some more “crazy” shit in Hayley’s inner monologue. Fuck off, Hayley.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 2 (+1)
Between the ableism and the secret adoption/twin storyline, I’m done with this book. Bullet points it is!
- She confronts her mom about having a sister, and tells her that her secret sister has been spying on her. She also asks whether James can tell them where she is. Her mom pulls away from her, and says that the other daughter is dead. Hayley freaks the fuck out at that, of course. There was a couple lined up to adopt twins, but things went wrong after Hayley was born, and Hayley’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her sister’s neck, strangling her. Her mother was glad the adoption fell through after that, because she actually wanted to keep her babies, and she loved having Hayley all to herself. Hayley is freaked out that maybe she killed her sister because she was jealous even in utero. And now maybe she’s being haunted for revenge. Oh god, Hayley.
- Hayley sits alone for awhile, and then talks to her dead sister to apologize and ask her to stop punishing her, and then asks what her dead sister wants her to do. A police officer asks what she’s doing, and tells her to leave the park now that it’s closed. Good thing she’s a white girl.
- She gets home to yet another note from her mother saying that she’s too upset to be around her so she’s staying at Geoff’s. Good lord, woman, you are a terrible fucking mother. Parents? What parents?: 100 (+98) [Dove: Doubly so after the revelation of the supah sekrit adoption storyline.]
- Hayley gets an email from the Ainsworth committee congratulation her on advancing to the final round of the scholarship search and telling her when to schedule her interview. She searches for her phone to call someone to celebrate, but it is missing. That’s going to go well, I’m sure, but she doesn’t seem to care. She gets an IM right after: You’re a lucky girl, aren’t you? Future Ainsworth scholar … if you stay alive that long. The avatar next to the message is the same from the original Facebook profile. She slams her laptop shut, goes to get a knife, then comes back to find her laptop miraculously open, even though she doesn’t seem to notice that inconsistency (AUTHOR!). There’s another message: You can run, but you can’t hide, Hayley. I know you too well. And then: Ignoring me won’t make me go away.
- Finally Hayley asks if they are her sister, and the person says yes. When Hayley begs to know what the person wants, she gets a mocking response about needing to do more research.
- Hayley does some more detecting, and finds old children’s clothes and then some film negatives at the bottom of the drawer. One of them is a picture of a newborn, quite, placid, and staring at the camera; all the baby pictures of Hayley have her screaming and red-faced. Then there’s another picture of the same baby, and at the bottom of it, just barely visible, is the foot of another baby. MORE SECRETS.
- She sleeps in her car at school that night, and Keely finds her in the morning. Tells her she can just come over to her house if it happens again. Ingrid calls it very Euro, though, and says they did it throughout Spain to save money. Keeley is apparently approving of her dating Matt, because that’s important for some reason.
- Matt turns up with her phone, and asks her out for Friday night. Adam sees them joking around, and is super sarcastic to her. Apparently there was a big celebration in the office because Hayley and Adam have both moved on to the next stage of the scholarship and he’s mad she didn’t show up, but she didn’t know anything about it. He snaps at her, accuses her of manipulating people to make them feel sorry for her, and doesn’t believe that anything is being done to her that she doesn’t want. Their interviews are Monday at 10 a.m., and they have the rest of the day off.
- She finds another note in her locker, this one telling her that they have her back and that everything they’re doing is for her own good. So now they’re turning up in places pretending to be Hayley even when she’s nearby. This is going well. And then the note ends telling her she’ll be at a pep rally that night.
- Hayley goes to the pep rally trying to find her secret dead sister, but ends up hanging out with Keely, Ingrid, and Emily. Hayley gets a text saying that someone is being a good sister, making friends for her. Hayley tries to leave, but then falls when she gets to the bottom of the bleachers. She either hits her head and makes herself bleed or has a nose bleed at the same time, it’s not clear. Keely, Ingrid, and Emily tell her she’s being totally cool, actually, but because she’s fragile, they’re not letting her out of their sight, and she’s so happy about it.
- They spend the next three days together, and people at school, even teachers, are being super gentle with her. She finds it weird that being so far from perfect makes people like her more. Clearly, Hayley has learned nothing in the thousands and thousands of words of this book (and recap, oh god).
- The girls help her get ready for her date with Matt, and Hayley starts day-dreaming about an actual future with him. Pretty early for that, kid. Once Matt arrives, Hayley has some awkward conversation with him, which turns into slightly cute flirting. They get to the restaurant, Hayley spills water on her borrowed dress, and when she gets back from cleaning herself up in the bathroom, she finds a girl in a gray dress sitting across from Matt. Hayley herself, basically. And Hayley thinks she’s beautiful, even though Hayley would never call herself that; this girl moves in a way that is mesmerizing. The girl takes off, Hayley rejoins Matt, and she’s grumpy that he couldn’t tell the difference between them. I think you are asking too much, Hayley, though I do find that heartbreaking (and a great storyline in other things, like Fringe, which ripped out my heart and shredded it). Her secret dead sister had ordered seafood for her even though she’s allergic. Hayley finds her secret dead sister’s purse on the floor and finds an ID, Jamie Thomson-Thurm, along with an address.
- She takes off from the restaurant, freaking Matt out because of the way she’s acting, and grabs a bus to get into Boston. In the purse is an oxblood-red wallet (gorgeous color), money, receipts from a coffee place, a picture of a guinea pig named Peanut Butter, named after her favorite thing in the world, and an index card with all of Hayley’s information on it, from her social security number to all her passwords.
- She finally gets to Boston, and when she’s paying the cab driver that takes her to the address, she finds a note in the middle of the money: And you think I don’t care about your well-being? Enjoy Massachusetts. Hayley freaks out at this, of course. She’s greeted at the door by the man from the picture in the back of the book jacket, who of course thinks she’s Jamie and tell her they’re not playing games with her anymore. Lots of ableist bullshit about split personalities, imaginary twins, locking her away in a place up in Maine with electroshock therapy — it’s fucked up. Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: infinity
- Hayley gets institutionalized, forced onto a drug regimine, and believes the craziness around her (from a place she doesn’t belong, of course) is infecting her. I am going to set the entire world on fire. Fuck you, Davies. Fuck. You. [Dove: And this is where I gave up and metaphorhically threw my kindle out of the window. I was done. Everything from here is brand new to me. Also, I’m fucking shocked that Wing managed to do this recap without literally setting fire to something.]
- She teams up with her roommate to get access to a phone, calls Matt who is of no help, calls Adam who sort of believes her, and then she’s caught in Dr Taylor’s office. She gets herself discharged, because they don’t keep patients against their will, which isn’t actually true if they think they’re dangerous to themselves or others, which they certainly seemed to think when she was admitted, but I’m so fucking done with this book.
- Hayley goes home, finds Jamie there, and Hayley tries to talk to her, but Jamie grabs a butcher knife, but apparently she’s only teasing her. She did kill Leah to get Hayley her scholarship spot, though. Jamie saw her at a debate tournament last year, and started out just playing around because she was kicked out of school and therefore had a lot of time on her hands, but then it became an easy life to live. Her new plan is that Hayley wins the Ainsworth award, gives Jamie a stipend from the money, and Jamie will leave her alone. Hayley decides that she’ll go along with this plan, and they actually hug.
- Haley goes to her Ainsworth interview the next morning, though now she’s sure that Jamie is actually going to end up killing her or her mother. She breaks down in the middle of the interview, sees Haley talking to Adam in the parking lot, begs one of the interviewers to call the police, and they end up in a car chase, until Jamie tries to put the car into the lake. Hayley crashes into her to stop her.
- And wakes up in the hospital. James is there with her mother, and she’s so tired of her mother’s lies. Her mom finally tells her the truth, that they were going to give them up for adoption, but when she saw Hayley, she couldn’t do it, so James took the other one, and they agreed that the girls could never know about each other, because there’s a world in which that makes sense. Just not this one.
- Adam survived the crash with a broken leg, and Hayley really wants to see him. Jamie is dead, per her mother, but I’m not sure I’d believe that this time around, considering all the other fucking lies.
- Book ends with Hayley at UPenn, dating Adam who is at Harvard, and sees a message on her Facebook page from Hayley Westin saying, I’m Still Here. Then she talks to Adam, who thanks her for the flowers she left on his dorm room desk. Told you so.
I hate everything about this book forever, thanks to SECRET ADOPTION TEASE and SECRET TWINS and CRAZY IS FUCKING DANGEROUS RAWR. Fuck off, Anna Davies. Fuck off into the sea.
[Dove: Behold, the worst of all four new Point Horrors. And it was a pretty close race, except for the fact that this one broke new records in being SUPAH DRAMATIK while also being boringly written. The adoption storyline? Yeah, Diane Hoh didn’t do that 27 years ago. And it wasn’t a genius idea then. I just really really hated this book. And thank god all four of them are recapped, and we never have to read them again. Ever.]
I hate the hot chick! (And she hates me.): 15
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: infinity
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2
Parents? What parents?: 100
That sounds awful. I just hate read this recap. Why are all the new PH’s so bad!?
I don’t know! I had such high expectations for them, and everything ended up terrible.
Anna Davies killed the Point Horror relaunch. There, I said it! She is a TERRIBLE writer. Both her garbage books made little sense and left all sorts of unanswered questions, which I won’t go into here, or my comment will be as long as the recap. I’m glad you made sense of the finale in this one, because it left me scratching my head.
Davies wrote some poor-me, precious-little-petal column in which she complained about how ghost-writing sucked the soul out of her. I’m surprised anybody would let her anywhere near their intellectual property. Word is, Davies ghost-wrote some of the newer “The Vampire Diaries” books after the publisher took the material away from L.J. Smith. (Which is a fascinating story in itself and shows you how ruthless the publishing industry is. And that makes me ask – how on earth does Davies even get work???)
I saw that ghost writing post while doing research on how old she was (and obviously procrastinating from my recap). (Here’s the article for the curious.) What surprised me is the underlying assumption that she couldn’t write both the ghost written books and her own books. It sounds like she whipped out the ghost written books pretty quickly, so what was stopping her from doing her own work otherwise?
Sometime, I would love to hear the story about the publisher taking the material away from L. J. Smith, if you have any background on it. I didn’t know that happened (though I also haven’t really read any of the relaunch books — hell, I didn’t read the originals until the mid-2000s, when I recapped the first season of the tv show for a publisher).
I don’t know if I’ve read any of her ghost written books, but I have been completely unimpressed with both of her Point Horror books. It’s such a shame the relaunch didn’t work out, because it could have been so much fun! And yet.
Here’s a link that shows an email from L.J. Smith herself about how she doesn’t own the intellectual property of “The Vampire Diaries”. She was essentially fired because she wanted to take the characters in a different direction to what the publishers wanted. You’ll get some pop-up that blocks the content, but there’s a “Skip Survey” option that brings it back up.
I like the intimation the ghostwriters are writers not good enough to get their own stuff published, lol.
I started watching “The Vampire Diaries” for the first time last weekend. Although it’s not a patch on “Buffy”, it’s still pretty entertaining supernatural melodrama. Completed the first season in 3 days. I only vaguely remember the books from back in the day, but I’ll likely revisit them now (I have the first four from when they were first published in 1991).
I’m super impressed you made it so far before doing the bullets. I couldn’t make it through 25% of this book.
Yeah, that seems to be going around. That’s why we’re here, though; we recap so you don’t have to read!