Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 901
2008, Kahili. It has been two hours since Dean returned with Noa's backpack, but Malia already knew Noa was dead before that. She never imagined dying before her son. She makes him a lei of orange flowers and the family buries it, as they cannot bury his body.
For several days, the family does not feel able to do anything; Khadeja calls several times, and Malia knows they will keep the connection. Meanwhile, Dean goes back to Spokane, because at least there he has ways of making money.
One morning Malia wakes up and feels different. She and Augie have a Saturday off together and throw a party on the beach, a sort of wake to celebrate Noa's life and to confirm to themselves that they are still alive.
Malia and Augie receive a letter from Noa's landlord to say that his rent is overdue and he is in breach of tenancy. Noa is asked to vacate the property before the end of the month or else he will be evicted. Malia and Augie, as cosigners, are responsible for the debt.
2009, San Diego. Kaui is staying with a friend, Saad, and is beginning to abuse Vicodin. She has felt wrong since her argument with Van and worries that everyone knows what happened.
Dean calls, asking why she hasn't been calling home and why she sounds drunk. When she answers that she is stoned, Dean dismisses this but tells her about the issue with Noa's landlord, who is now going to dispose of Noa's things. Kaui says this is a breach of tenants' rights, but Dean claims he has no time to go through a legal process; he has to fix this. Kaui confirms Noa's address and then hangs up and leaves.
Dean arrives at Noa's apartment, then realizes he has no key. He is wondering what to do when Khadeja arrives, saying Malia called her. The sheriff's department has said they need to pay $4,500 in due rent, but now a moving truck is on its way. Khadeja tries to intervene when they explain that they've been tasked with emptying the place out.
The sheriff arrives, and Khadeja goes over to address him instead. Meanwhile, the movers are taking things out of the apartment, throwing Noa's clothes disrespectfully, and Dean feels full of rage. He begins taking things back inside. Eventually the sheriff intervenes, and at that moment, Kaui arrives and throws a punch at one of the movers.
Minutes later, Kaui and Dean are in the sheriff's car, handcuffed. The sheriff had to break up a fight; now Khadeja is trying to charm him, but all Noa's things are outside on the grass. The sheriff says he could make things very ugly for them, but because Khadeja has explained about Noa, the sheriff will let them go.
They get out of the car, and it begins to rain. Kaui, Khadeja, and Dean begin bringing as many of Noa's belongings back toward the apartment as they can, but it's now locked again. Kaui breaks in through a window and opens the door for them so that they can bring things in.
They find a box of pictures and papers, including Noa's Stanford diploma. Kaui and Dean talk; Dean says he knows Kaui likes girls, and they discuss Noa's death and his gift. Dean admits that sometimes he felt he had a suggestion of the same gift himself.
Then keys jingle in the front door, and the two siblings leap up and run.
Kaui and Dean immediately run into the...
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sheriff. They run past him and split up; Kaui finds a car that she can quickly steal and drives off looking for Dean. Dean gets in, astonished at the theft, and tells Kaui they should take the car back. She refuses; Dean suddenly lunges for Kaui and shoves her into the passenger seat and out of the car so he is in the driver’s seat. When the police arrive, they arrest Dean immediately.
The dynamics in the Flores family are forced to shift in the wake of Noa's death, and this section of the book tracks the beginning of that shift. In the past, Kaui has always been the hard worker, the diligent student, trying to compensate for not having the gifts that make everything effortless for Noa. Dean has always been the one who has caused issues, academically and with his behavior. However, here we see this situation begin to change. Dean is the one who has helped out his parents as much as he could; Dean is the one who is beginning to accept that there may be some element of Noa's gift in him, too. Meanwhile, Kaui, who has always worked hard and functioned at a high level at school, is beginning to take drugs and engage in risky behavior, culminating in stealing a car as she and Dean try to escape from Noa's apartment. Kaui is now the driver of the illegal behavior, and Dean is left in the position of having to defend his family. Evidently, Dean feels very strongly that the responsibility of looking after the Flores clan is now on his shoulders, and at the end of this section, we see him selflessly sacrifice himself for Kaui, perhaps not wanting his parents to have to suffer further disillusionment or reconfigure their view of their daughter at this time of bereavement.