Last Updated on January 27, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1399
Addy stops by to visit Janae and offer her some compassion. In return, Janae shares a letter that Simon had written, explaining his plans to end his life while simultaneously destroying those of four others in the process. He conveys that he wanted his suicide to be talked about for years and for imposters to imitate him. Janae tells Addy that Simon hated Bronwyn for getting away with cheating, making it impossible for him to catch up with her academically. Cooper had gotten Simon blacklisted from an after-prom party, which had humiliated him. He hated Nate because of an incident with Keely, with whom Simon had been infatuated. Janae also reveals that Simon had rigged the votes so that he would end up on prom court, but Jake had found out. He brought Jake in on his plan because he needed someone to “keep things going” after his death. Simon told Jake that he would make sure Addy ended up in jail, and Jake indeed hoped to exact revenge on her for the night with TJ. He was willing to pretend that everything was normal between him and Addy until Simon died so that he could really punish her. After Simon’s death, Janae told Jake that he needed to back off from the plans; however, Jake enjoyed the power and refused. Janae was supposed to plant the evidence on Addy but found that she couldn’t do it after Addy had shown her genuine compassion. Instead, she had dumped everything on Nate.
Jake suddenly arrives at Janae’s house. Addy instructs Janae to get him to confess while Addy hides and records the exchange with her phone. Jake enters and scolds Janae for botching the plans, pointing out that it “should’ve been Addy” who went to jail. Suddenly, their conversation is interrupted by notification sounds from Addy’s phone, and Jake realizes that someone is listening. Addy grabs her phone and runs out of the house with Jake in pursuit. When he catches up, he grabs her head and slams it into a rock, telling her that she should be in jail but that “this works too.” He then tries to strangle her. Cooper appears and grabs Jake, slinging him off Addy.
With the new evidence presented, Nate is released from the juvenile detention center. When Bronwyn asks to spend some time with him, he pushes her away.
Jake has been arrested. Janae has been cooperating with the investigation and is expected to get a plea bargain for her testimony against Jake. Cooper and his father are beginning to talk about his future plans in baseball again, and Cooper agrees to an interview with a coach just to make his father happy. However, Cooper is only interested in Cal State, because it is the only school that didn’t give up on him during his adversity.
Looking back, Addy can see that she allowed Jake to control her. Still, she never could have believed that he was capable of trying to kill her. She suffered a serious skull fracture in the incident and is still recovering. Addy is also conflicted about her feelings toward Simon; she realizes that on some level, he simply wanted to be seen, and that fact makes her deeply sad for him. TJ has been texting and hinting that he’d like to take Addy out, but she is certain that she could never date him; her one night with him had set in motion the horrific sequence of events that had nearly gotten her killed. Addy’s mother believes that TJ is her last hope to avoid...
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“spinsterhood,” but Addy looks to her older sister for advice instead. Eli has become quite smitten with Ashton, and the two have gone on a series of “not-dates,” which Ashton has been enjoying. Aston takes Addy to a new apartment building and tells her that she and Charlie are selling their condo. With her share of the profits, she plans to rent this new space in Bayview, and she wants Addy to live with her. Addy is thrilled, seeing it as a “fresh start for both of [them].”
In an impromptu interview, Bronwyn publicly acknowledges that she did, in fact, cheat her way through chemistry. She points out that her parents raised her to be honest and to work hard, and she realizes that she has disappointed them. She apologizes to them, to her teachers, and to the colleges she hoped to apply to. She then visits Nate, hoping to start working on their relationship again. However, Nate tells her that the two of them just need to get back to “normal,” and he maintains that they are not each other’s “normal.” Bronwyn assures him that her feelings have not changed toward him, but Nate replies that she needs to spend her time getting ready for “the Ivy League.” Bronwyn goes home and falls apart. To try to cheer her up, Maeve shows her a recent tweet from Yale, reminding its audience that “to err is human” and encouraging Bronwyn to apply.
Three months later, Bronwyn has been interning for Eli, and she no longer believes that her entire future is contingent on getting into Ivy League schools. She is preparing for a piano solo with the San Diego Symphony, and she texts directions to her friends, including Addy. Cooper is arriving with Kris after having dinner with Kris’s parents. Bronwyn gives an incredible performance, her fingers creating notes “like a heartbeat.” She finishes to loud applause and later catches up with friends in the foyer. She is surprised that Eli has arrived with Ashton, which means that he had to leave the office early. She reflects that somehow Eli manages to find time for anything Ashton wants to do. Bronwyn notes that Addy keeps scanning the crowd for someone, but she won’t tell Bronwyn who she’s waiting for. Bronwyn’s father offers to go get the car for her, leaving Bronwyn with her mom and sister.
Suddenly, Nate arrives on his motorcycle, and Maeve pulls their mother away. Nate tells Bronwyn that his father is back in rehab and that his mom seems to have settled back in Bayview. He tells her that the song she played for her solo is now the best thing that he’s ever heard. Bronwyn asks Nate why he has come, and he tells her that he has been an idiot. He has gotten so used to being alone that he realizes that he is horrible at intimacy. Bronwyn responds that he can’t just ride up on a motorcycle and expect that everything will be fine between them. Nate offers to just hang out as friends and even volunteers to watch one of her favorite movies—which he personally hates. Bronwyn agrees, and she smiles as she walks toward her parents’ car.
Together, Simon and Jake proved to be a monstrous combination, capable of inflicting great harm without any remorse. Both of them took pride in being able to exert power over others. Simon was so blinded by his need to be seen and remembered that he sacrificed himself in an effort to be considered great. He longed for revenge on those around him, always feeling pushed to the side of society and never valued by anyone whom he believed mattered. His schoolmates were oblivious to the ways they excluded Simon, not even remembering that he had been elected to prom court and forgetting about how he had fallen for Keely.
Jake proved coldly calculating, biding his time with knowledge of Addy’s betrayal. Instead of confronting her, Jake wanted to punish her. Filled with hatred over Addy’s actions, Jake intended to kill her and likely would have if Cooper had not rescued her.
These final chapters also demonstrate the ways goodness rises up to fight evil. Addy was saved by Cooper after reaching out in genuine concern for Janae, who also felt pushed to the sides of society. Janae decides not to follow Simon’s path of destruction but instead turns to the truth, demonstrating how acts of goodwill can create a ripple effect of positive actions. Bronywn never loses faith in Nate, leading the efforts to discover the evidence needed to free him. In the end, malevolence and falsehood are defeated through compassion, concern, and authenticity.