Estimated Elapsed Time: 2 weeks?
Picking up right where we left off, Todd greets Elizabeth with a huge hug, completely oblivious to the fact that she looks guilty as hell and is still holding Joey’s hand. He’s planning on staying with Winston because it’s been a whole week and he can’t live without Elizabeth. He doesn’t notice the fact that Liz is not into this at all. Joey tells Liz that it’s clear she’s not in love with Todd and tells her to cut him loose. Liz agrees but backs out when it comes time to do so, telling herself she’ll just keep her summer fling a secret. This will end well. But Nicole tells Liz that she’ll tell Todd and blackmails her into breaking up with Joey so she can date him.
Meanwhile, Jessica nabs the lead in the camp play (shouldn’t this be for the, um, campers?). She’s stoked about this until she gets a letter from Paul, who tells her he doesn’t want to see her again. He calls her a dumb blonde and Jessica is pissed but sees it as a challenge, especially after she finds out that he had his heart broken by another counselor the year before and has sworn off those cheating, flighty camp counselors for his entire life. THEY ARE ALL ALIKE. Jessica calls him out and he tells her he’ll date her just to prove he isn’t afraid of women. What a catch.
Apparently Jessica thinks he is the cat’s pajamas because she does stupid stuff like stealing the camp owner’s car to sneak into town to see Paul. Of course she gets caught returning it and can’t risk sneaking off again, so she sends him a letter telling him to meet her later. Do these people not have access to phones? She ends up going into town to meet Joey on the day of the play and misses her own performance. Liz steps in for her and crushes it. Joey comes up to Liz after and kisses her, telling her he knew it was her all along. So that’s back on.
In other news, Winston is moping over the letters his girlfriend Maria (not to be confused with Maria SLATER) who is gushing over her experiences at her grandmother’s ranch and the fieldhand she’s met there. Winston is sure she’s cheating on him with this rando cowboy, so Todd and Aaron get him gussied up as a cowboy so he can learn to ride horses or whatever and impress her when he sees her. But he also starts dealing with a 15-year-old camper named Lara who “looks old for her age” and is totally hot to trot with Winston. They make out a lot because whatever happens in Montana stays in Montana. Then Winston gets a letter from Maria that includes a picture of the field hand and he’s an old dude who she is definitely not into.
I AM SO BORED.
- Lila is still dating that dude but I don’t care.
- Lara wears a burnt-orange baby doll dress to seduce Winston and that is the single best moment in the entire book.
- “She was attracted to someone else. She had to break up with Todd. Just the thought made her feel like the most disloyal girlfriend on earth.” (54)
- “As Winston smoothed the lotion on her delicate skin, he bit his lip. It was hard to remember that Lara was just a camper.” (104)
A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:
I cannot believe there’s still another book in this mini-series. I know I’ve hated books before in the series, but something about this story is just slowly killing me with it’s complete banality. Like, who the fuck cares about any of this? I sure as hell don’t. I don’t even get the sense that the characters in the book do. The fact that they felt the need to stretch this paper-thin story across three books is boggling to the mind.
Two things bothered me about this book, though: Elizabeth’s weird mental gymnastics around her own cheating and Paul’s obvious misogyny. It’s weird that the book frame’s Elizabeth’s guilt over having feelings for someone else as this terrible thing, because it is perfectly natural and happens all the time (in real life and in these books). This is not the first time she’s cheated on Todd. It’s like the 500th time, so I’m not sure why we’re supposed to be so scandalized by it.
But also, Paul’s whole “all women are alike/I’m not afraid of them” bullshit is tired, gross, and worrisome. Are we supposed to be into the idea that Jessica has the tenacity and wherewithal to break him down into liking her? Girl, throw that fish back. There are plenty more out there!