While working at the concession stand, Nick sees Leo emotionally abusing Neysa, which reminds Nick of himself. A short while afterwards, Nick learns that Leo has killed himself and Neysa. Because Leo—and the abuse in his past—remind Nick of his own life and violent tendencies, this leads Nick to take a hard look at himself. He reflects on his last violent incident with Caitlyn in his journal, revealing to the reader that he had taken her into the parking lot and beaten her for performing in their high school talent show:
I hit her again. This time, my fist was clenched, my feet set. . . . Knuckles meeting her jaw. . . . I was small, weak. Gaining power, though. Gaining power by taking it from her and the words coursing from my throat. I hit her again, not seeing her face, couldn’t make her real if I wanted. Only anger, red, violent, on me like a cloak. My hands closing around her neck, barely knowing who she was.
Tom, walking by at that precise moment, intervenes. For Nick, writing in his journal and admitting his abuse is a step toward the right direction. Not only does Nick begin to write more in his journal, he also begins to make real progress in his family violence class, recognizing the cycle of abuse:
I’m a loser. That’s what my dad says, anyway. Loser. Failure. I tried to prove him wrong, finding things I could control, like my grades. And Caitlin. When she said no, or I’d think there was someone else, there’d be this voice in my head, almost too soft to hear, whispering loser. You’re a loser, a mistake. And I had to drown it out, had to win, no matter the cost. . . . But, what it cost was Caitlin. Hurting her made me a loser.
What happens not too long after Nick witnesses Leo’s psychological abuse of Neysa at the concession stand is the beginning of the major turning point (Leo’s abuse and subsequent murder of Neysa) in Nick’s path toward becoming a better person: the tragic story of Leo and Neysa is the harsh mirror which leads Nick to deal with and end the cycle of abuse started by his own father.