Chapters 15–21 Summary
Jake’s comment stays with Layla as she tries to decipher his motives. “God willing. Everything and nothing?”
Ayesha suggests that Layla consider David’s proposal. She reminds Layla that even if they managed to escape through some other means, there is nowhere to go. They cannot even hide in Mexico, because they’d be shot climbing over the border wall.
Ayesha does not trust Jake and thinks he is using Layla to obtain information. Layla assures her that Jake is genuine.
Layla talks about the White Rose. Soheil is familiar with this reference to Hans and Sophie Scholl, students who were executed for denouncing Hitler. Sophie believed that someone had to start resisting.
Soheil asks if they are considering a resistance. Layla’s idea is to write stories about life at Mobius, which David will give to the media. Soheil promises to help and suggests a protest fast. Ayesha mentions that she had previously suggested a teen vegetable garden to the librarian, who purchased supplies. While they plant seeds in the garden, they can recruit people and plant seeds of rebellion.
Layla, Ayesha, and Soheil witness their friend Noor being dragged away by guards. Noor had previously told Layla that rebellion was the American way. Two women try to help Noor but are beaten by the guards and removed.
The Director shoots a gun in the air, and the crowd falls silent. He wants everyone to hear the distant sounds of the women screaming.
Unable to sleep, Layla writes Noor’s story. The next morning, she lies to her parents about meeting Ayesha and instead meets Jake to give him the story. He brings her to the Mess hall, where David surprises her. He is dressed in a sanitation uniform that Jake gave him so he could enter Mobius undetected.
Layla is concerned for David’s safety, as he will be responsible for leaking the story to the media. Unbeknownst to Jake, David gives Layla a flip phone so that she can call him any time she wants.
Jake again warns Layla against any kind of disobedient act. He knows they are taking a big risk in leaking the story, and he reiterates that he can only protect Layla so much. He says it’s not just the president behind the internment camps—it’s Homeland Security, the CIA, and the FBI:
You need to understand that the president operates like the Constitution is a blank slate . . . No one is challenging him. People won’t even call him out on his blatant lies.
Jake reminds Layla that people are trying to help, but she needs to trust him and heed his advice.
The Director walks toward them and addresses Layla by name, showing that he knows who she is. He asks where she has been. Jake answers that she lost her necklace, and he brought her to retrieve it. The Director warns them that he sees everything.
Layla is struck by the irony of their vegetable garden’s name—“Peace Garden.” Jake tells Layla about his mother, who loved gardening, and his father, who is a military man. Layla expresses sympathy for the fact that he lost his mother when he was twelve. “It’s never easy to lose what you love,” she says.
Later, Jake comes to Layla’s mobile home. Awkwardly, they stand in the common room, knowing there are cameras. He gestures to her room so they can talk freely. When she asks what will happen when someone sees him enter her room, Jake says the Director will assume rape or coercion and will not care. He promises that if he ever saw something like that happen, he would stop it.
Jake informs her that Noor’s blood-stained hijab was found on the premises; someone had written “resist” across it. He feels it is his duty to protect the United States from all enemies, even the ones within. He apologizes for having to go along with the Director’s orders for now but hints that he also has “counter-orders.” The Director trusts him, and keeping that trust is the only way Jake feels he can keep Layla safe.
Layla notices Jake’s demeanor is softer than usual. He worries that...
(The entire section is 1,341 words.)