As everyone gets up and ready, Conrad muses that Brianna can't hold her feelings inside forever. He's only known her for like two days but of course he already knows what's best for her better than she does herself. It's OK, though, it's not because he's a man. It's because he's a Christian. That's why Sonya also automatically knows what Brianna needs to do and not do, even though she's only known her for a week or two. It's a superpower we have.
Conrad realizes he's already become "emotional involved" with Brianna (and that's Rothdiener's typo, not mine). But apparently despite all his flirting with her, he still thinks maybe he thinks of her as just a sister or a close fried.
Sonya notices this and brings it up to him, though she helpfully points out that they're all surprisingly drawn to Brianna. He asks why.
“I’m not certain if it’s her physical appearance, her mysterious life, bubbling personality, or what. I just know that she captured me on the first day.”I'm not sure I'd call Brianna's personality "bubbling." She's pretty guarded and reserved. She's hardly Skye. (Which is a good thing.)
However, I can tell you right now, Sonya: it's Brianna's physical appearance. Everyone gushes about it constantly as soon as they meet her. She has not yet had an encounter where someone introduced themselves to her with, "Wow, when they said you had a bubbling personality, they weren't kidding!"
So, yeah. There's your answer.
Conrad asks Sonya to tell him the secrets she's learned about Brianna's past. Sonya hems and haws for like a second, but caves almost immediately. She starts off by telling him that her real name is Janna Anderson. Conrad's response:
“I suspected that Brianna Bays was a made-up name.”"What kind of dumb name is that anyway? It's not like it's something sensible like Skye Leontiou."
Sonya then cheerfully tells Conrad that Brianna's adoptive father is in jail for abusing her, but that she thinks Brianna's lying about it and feels guilty. Conrad makes some vague statements about knowing what she's been through because of foster care, but their bonding is cut short by Bruno showing up.
Then there are several paragraphs about Brianna getting ready for the awards ceremony. She spends hours on her own hair (which must be full but flowy enough that it can blow in the wind or something) but gets a make-up artist for her makeup, so I guess they couldn't afford a hair stylist.
When they get to the awards ceremony, people go bonkers and try to rip off Brianna's scarf, but her bodyguards beat them all up and they get inside. Conrad tells her to get ready, but she's already done all her hair and makeup and apparently has no plans of doing anything other than sitting in her dressing room for six hours, so I don't know what "getting ready" entails.
Conrad also hugs Brianna trying to comfort her, which makes Sonya think this:
It was unlike Conrad to act on emotion. No doubt, Brianna’s magic, her passion, had captured his attention.No doubt indeed, since HE TOLD HER THAT THAT MORNING. Dumb Sonya and her five-second attention span...
Time goes by. We learn that apparently Brianna wanted to do her dance choreography with her guitar, which is... an unusual choice. Finally she compromised by agreeing to put down her guitar when she danced but she'll pick it back up when she's done dancing.
Now it's five minutes until Brianna goes onstage. Sonya tries to encourage her.
“You look gorgeous.”
“Beauty is not what’s going to win this crowd.”
Brianna shows Sonya that she's ready to go onstage by singing the scale, and Sonya deems her ready. She leaves her dressing room, tells Bruno his German accent is sexy (this comment comes out of nowhere), and heads backstage.
The emcee made a tacky one-liner about the noise backstage. One insensitive attempt at humor was about a nobody taking the place of one of America’s hottest talents. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can tell by the commotion in the back that we are about to get a show. I’m not sure what to expect. I hear that the young girl, Brianna Bays... you may have heard about her on the news...” He paused until the laughter died down. “Apparently, she looks like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz—the cartoon that is.”Is that dialogue showcasing his tacky one-liner and his insensitive attempt at humor? Because I don't get what's so offensive about that, unless it's just that he's daring to not worship at the feet of someone he doesn't know. Also... what is this Wizard of Oz cartoon? Do they mean the TV one that ran for like a year in 1990? In that case, the joke is that Brianna looks like this:
Which is not particularly mean-spirited. That girl looks normal. In fact, she looks pretty Judy Garland-esque. So I have no idea what this joke even means or why people are being offended by it or what makes it insensitive. Is it offensive to say people look like cartoon characters now and I just didn't know?
They announce the song Brianna's going to sing, mentioning that Judd Stevens originally recorded it. The crowd cheers for Judd and boos for Brianna (have people ever booed at the Oscars? Because that's what this event is clearly supposed to be, despite its slightly different name).
Anyway, Brianna takes a stage... and now, to tell you how it went, I present the follow words or phrases describing her performance and the audience's reaction:
- voice of an angel
- hitting low notes and high notes "in one breath"
- heart wrenching
To Rothdiener's credit, he does focus on Brianna's performance more than on her looks, although that is all shattered as soon as she's done singing:
“Wow! You are a knockout!” The host put his arm around her shoulders. “You think she looks good from down there; you should see her up close.”
The host then goes on to rave about how she can sing and dance at the same time, which pop stars apparently cannot do. Someone should take him to a Beyonce concert. Or to a dance-heavy Broadway show. He will be blown away.
Brianna applauds her dancers, and the host is amazed that she's not bragging about herself. Which... again, indicates that he hasn't paid much attention to the world of performing arts. Most up-and-coming artists don't respond to a compliment like that with, "Yup, I'm a pretty awesome dancer" -- at least not in public. That doesn't typically happen until you reach Kanye levels of fame and narcissism.
A man and a woman who will be revealing the winner come to the stage, and the man makes a creepy joke about how he wanted to make Brianna give him a hug and the only thing stopping him was her bodyguards. They announce that Brianna won, and she gives a tiny thank-you speech, in which she only thanks Sonya.
Brianna looks at the audience and for some reason they all go completely silent, despite the fact that her speech appears to be over. She gives a cryptic speech about thanking Ethan and tells him she's sorry, and then she starts crying.
Wiping her tears, Sonya realized that the mysterious girl was one step closer to revealing her past.
Her star/friend/client is crying on live TV, and all Sonya can think about is, "YESSSSS, I almost know all her secrets!"
Then Brianna goes and cries in Conrad's arms.
We then zoom WAY ahead in time:
Over the next four years, Brianna Bays would consistently be on the top of the charts— the number one entertainer in the world.
She's also in movies, performs for the troops, performs at the White House, does a Super Bowl half-time show, and wins more awards. But she is still sad inside. And that is where this chapter ends. We made it through A WHOLE CHAPTER! I haven't done that in awhile.
55% of the way through the book, with 140 pages left to go.