Chapter Eighteen & Nineteen: FINALLY Something Happens
Okay, technically things have happened in this book. But for much of the recent chapters it’s just been “I’m such a bad person should I be with this guy or that guy I can’t believe I cheated” blah blah blah pagefiller. So I’m happy to report that Things Actually Happen for a bit here.
Ryan has figured out what to do as a present for Jenna that will make her happy. And shockingly, it’s actually a pretty awesome surprise. It required string-pulling, name-dropping, and money-spending, so at first I was thinking it would be something extravagant and show-offy in a bad way, a way that only really makes Ryan look good. And he’s super excited, like a kid before Christmas morning excited, to give her the surprise. They drive to the Art Institute Saturday morning (after he returned late Friday night from the game in Montreal) and he takes her to the lobby to show her a plaque that reads “Jenna Linsenbigler” (which is his last name.) He’s made her one of the beneficiaries of the acquisition fund for the Art Institute, which means that she’s sharing art with other people. Now, other than his assumption that she’s taking his name (which was not talked about within the book), that’s a pretty amazing gift. I’m impressed. It’s really the first smart thing Ryan has done this entire book (because I refuse to count doing a few chores without asking as a big deal.)
Jenna agrees that this is an amazing gift, but seeing her name with his last name on the plaque makes her realize she has to confess and the chapter ends with her telling him she had an affair.
It’s a cliffhanger in the book, but since I’m a nice person (heh) and since chapter 19 picks up immediately (with “You…you what?”) I won’t end the blog post there.
It takes a while for Jenna’s confession to compute since Ryan is so sure that she would never do something like that. In fact, he tries to convince her that she means something else—that she flirted or someone had kissed her, that she doesn’t know what she’s saying. Once he knows that she slept with someone, he backs away from her and is disgusted with her.
Jenna tells him the affair is over and that it didn’t mean anything to her. That’s… really, book? REALLY?! You make me go through chapters and chapters of Jenna’s internal monologuing as she tries to decide between the two men and you drop “it didn’t mean anything”?! Oh FFS. Fine, book. Fine. Whatever.
Obviously the “I had an affair but I love you, Ryan” thing doesn’t go over so well. There’s shouting and cursing and “Well, then, I hope you’re glad to know that you just threw away eight fucking years for something—for someone—that means absolutely nothing to you” (125) and storming out, all in the lobby of the Art Institute of Chicago. So that’s fun.
I want to nitpick this, but for as much as I dislike Ryan, I can’t actually say he did anything wrong here. Sure, one could wish for him to have maybe not left Jenna stranded at the Art Institute, but it’s Chicago; there’s public transportation and taxis. Granted, “not acting violently when told you’ve been cheated on” isn’t enough for me to change my mind about him, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As I said, Jenna is left stranded at the Art Institute. And since we’ve already covered that she has absolutely no friends, she calls Nick to come get her. He doesn’t know where to take her, so he takes her home. Jenna confesses that she confessed to Ryan (although she did not tell Ryan with whom she’d slept) and Nick knows that this means she’s chosen Ryan over him and that despite the current situation, he has no chance with her. Even so, he holds her as she cries.