Friday, March 20, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: Brianna and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Plan

Last time: Sermons. Lots of sermons. From Brianna, from Pastor Jeremiah, from everyone. Then Brianna told Sonya to go find her real parents because I guess she's a private investigator now. And on we go.

The chapter begins:
“Brianna, can you hear me? Brianna!” 
The entertainer opened her eyes, finally snapping out of the deep trance she appeared to be in. Remembering her past and her dramatic conversion had drawn her away from the discussion with Sonya.
Because this ENTIRE STORY was a flashback, remember? We started as Sonya returned from her journey to find Brianna's parents and Ethan, and then Brianna just sat there remembering for awhile.

Sonya expresses concern about Brianna because she was so out of it.
She tried to clear her head, wondering how much time had elapsed. Looking at the clock, she realized only minutes had passed.
Only minutes? Several minutes is a long time to just zone out in front of someone. No wonder Sonya was concerned. She probably should have called a doctor.

Brianna says she had something "like a flashback" (wink, wink, audience) and laments about her past. Sonya advises her as her lawyer not to say or do anything, but as her friend to do the right thing and 'fess up. So that's super helpful.

Brianna announces that on her next visit to Iraq to entertain the troops, she also wants to visit her mother's grave and meet her mother's family. Sonya warns her it'll be extra dangerous. Since she told us several pages ago that Brianna's family had a $1,000,000 hit put on her, I think visiting them might be a terrible idea. Sonya voices that very opinion and asks why Brianna wants to do this.
“I want to meet those who murdered my mother. I want to face them, and ask them why they did it. Then... then, I will let God show me what to say and do.”
...Yeah, she's definitely going to die.

In what scenario is it a good idea to meet up with your mother's murderer and your attempted murderer on their home turf and demand an explanation? That is how stupid people in movies get killed.

Brianna's also determined to get information from them on what happened to her father. For once, Sonya is the voice of reason, saying, "They may not know anything" and "You may not like where this leads you" and smart things like that, but Brianna is set on this very stupid plan. Personally, I think it would be in Sonya's best interests not only as Brianna's friend but as her manager to do everything in her power to keep her from just waltzing up to people who want to kill her and challenging their opinions.

As they debate it, we get this tiny moment:
Brianna blew a wisp of hair.
I'm sorry, it just cracks me up that here we have apparently the most beautiful perfect talented goddess-like woman on the planet, doing what in my mind looks like this:

Brianna complains that she's so rich but she doesn't have anyone to love.
She looked up at Sonya who had started massaging her shoulders.
It is not terribly easy to look up at shoulder massagers. It's an awkward angle. And if you're still blowing your hair wisps around, they won't like it.

Sonya tells Brianna again that she (Brianna) needs a man, and Brianna is dismissive again because this is probably like the 15,000th time Sonya's brought it up in the past four years.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the man of your dreams isn’t right in front of your eyes, but you’re too busy to notice.” The teasing faded from her eyes.
"Hint, hint! Marry Conrad, who's been super into you since you were a teenager and he was in his late 20s which apparently isn't at all creepy!"

Brianna responds:
“I read an article that said the first man a girl should fall in love with is her father.”
Ugh. I am all for strong father-daughter relationships, but sometimes the purity culture group make it sound like dads basically serve as their daughter's boyfriends until a real one comes along, and that's just uncomfortable. Family relationships are (and should be) very definitely different from romantic ones, and using romantic language for family relationships is an odd dynamic. Note that this is especially an uncomfortable statement in the middle of a book that addresses the idea of sexual abuse between father and daughter.

But that's all a little nit-picky and more a problem of a whole culture than bad writing, so let's move on.

Brianna suggests maybe Sonya needs a man, and suggests Harry (remember him? The horrible lawyer who hit on Brianna by asking Sonya suggestive questions about her and it was apparently cute and charming instead of objectifying and unprofessional?). Sonya laughs it off.

Brianna muses for a bit on her birthmark and how she hates it, Susan hated it, but Ethan wasn't ashamed of it.
Sonya could tell she was reliving the memory in her mind.
Did she then zone out for several minutes without Sonya being concerned enough to get anyone else from outside the room? Because that's happened before.

There's a crapload more exposition of Sonya saying, "Tell me how you feel," and Brianna telling her how she feels. It's super boring for awhile.

Sonya changes the subject:
“Brianna, about your meeting with Ethan Anderson... there is something I haven’t told you. He’s considered a sexual predator. Legally, he can’t get within fifty feet of you without being arrested. Do you realize that?”
That... is not true. At least from what I can find, though anyone who knows/can find other information can correct me, but I don't feel like Rothdiener's earned the benefit of the doubt with his stellar research track record.

First of all, Brianna's certainly no longer a child, so any laws like "cannot be within 50 feet of a child" no longer apply to her.

Secondly, though, this all happened in Arizona, where sexual assault restraining orders last for a year, and you have to specifically apply for them. It's been six or seven years by now, and she certainly hasn't been filing new restraining orders every year. Even if she had, she could petition for a judge to quash the order, and if she can get a judge to file adoption papers for a couple who didn't even know it was happening, I'm pretty sure she could get one to say, "Oh, sure, you can initiate contact with Ethan."

All that to say, Sonya's a really crappy lawyer.

Brianna talks some more about how she wants to find her father, and Sonya's cynical some more about this whole mission, and the chapter ends with Brianna praying that everything will work out all right.

68% of the way in. 102 pages to go.

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