David/Justin is an incredibly anxious, pessimistic fifteen-year-old who overthinks everything and is afraid to act. He is so convinced that fate is out to get him that exciting and positive activities, like a trip to London with Agnes, become sources of potential terror: when he and Agnes arrive at a building in London, Justin thinks it’s “the perfect setting for a toothless muscle-bound villain with piano wire to garrote them both and eviscerate the bodies.” Even on the rare occasions Justin is not imagining imminent disaster, he still allows his thoughts to consume him and keep him from seeing and interacting with the world around him. For instance, while fantasizing about a sexual encounter with Agnes, Justin forgets to look where he is going and walks straight into a lamppost.
In a larger sense, Justin fails to see the good things in his life because he concentrates on the bad ones. Instead of being thankful for his friendships with Peter and Dorothea and for the baby brother he loves, Justin focuses on his doomed relationship with Agnes and the tragedies he is sure are about to befall him. Instead of considering himself lucky for surviving the plane crash, he considers himself unlucky for being at the crash site in the first place.
Only at the end of the novel, after two truly bad things have happened to Justin—he has been betrayed by Agnes and contracted a serious illness—does he finally learn to overcome his anxiety. Justin chooses to focus not on potential disasters, but on the good things and good people in his life. In so doing, he finds the strength to overcome his illness and live.
Although Justin’s brother Charlie is only a year old, he is remarkably perceptive, even though he cannot express what he sees in words. Justin often feels “that Charlie knew more than he let on,” and at one point, Charlie almost gets through to Justin with a message written in blocks. At the end of the novel, Justin finally does seem to hear Charlie, and the one-year-old’s understanding of fate helps Justin change his own perspective.
(The entire section is 889 words.)