Friday, April 24, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: Secrets Revealed (Some Stupider Than Others)

Last time, Brianna surprised Ethan with a visit and found out that not only is his life terrible now, but EVERYONE'S life is terrible now. All because he and Susan broke up after she lied. I seem to remember getting very annoyed with this part of the book, so, uh, we'll see what happens.

Ethan continues to update Brianna about his crappy life, about how his dad was killed in a hit-and-run and immediately had his identity stolen, and then what was left was paid in back taxes.
“Dad was always there to help America. In the end, they were there for him, too.”
...I don't even know how to categorize someone who is "always there to help America." I don't think I've ever thought that about anyone.

Turns out the police constantly come to ask him about missing kids or abused kids, because I guess he's the only known child abuser in all of... Wyoming, is that where he lives now? Well, that may be possible, because Wyoming has like six people in it. He's apparently also had police "break down the door" in the middle of the night and arrest him while he was sleeping which is completely illegal in this instance, and Brianna may want to look into getting him some compensation for the Wyoming police's apparently frequent unlawful arrests.

Brianna finds a scrapbook of herself on the table and then she and Ethan have a very casual conversation about how much he loves her because she's his daughter, which is a huge shift from the furious, raging, sarcastic guy he was just a minute ago. She gives him her guitar, and he's very touched for a second, or, as our author puts it:
The scene was moving, but just as quickly was over!
I don't know why that random exclamation point cracks me up so much, but it does.

Ethan demands to know why she lied, although she already told him. So she tells him she hated Susan and that she just wanted her parents. Then we get a twist that I'd completely forgotten about: Turns out Ethan is her real dad.

He tells her a loooooong boring back story of how he and Mira met in Paris, and how they would stand for hours at the top of the Eiffel Tower each night watching the city, which sounds romantic but also like it would get very old after awhile. He got her to become a Christian, but when she told her parents, they sent her brothers to bring her home. They got married super quickly so that he could take her home to America with him. Then she was kidnapped and taken back to her home, until she found out she was pregnant and escaped to live with a couple she knew. When her brothers came to kill her in the hospital, that mysterious nurse who wouldn't talk to Brianna swapped out Brianna for a baby who was already dead, so they all thought she was gone.
“Money can buy a lot of information.” 
“Don’t I know that!” Brianna stated emphatically, realizing that is how she received all her information— she bought it.
This is such a weird little exchange. On one hand it sounds like Brianna's being emphatic just because she wants to emphasize she has money and can buy information, but on the other hand... she's just realizing she buys all her information? Especially about her family? She's been tossing money at people left and right all book for info, and that's just hitting her now?

Eventually Ethan found her at the orphanage where she was and adopted her. This whole section is very long and dull, and there's not even much to snark at because it's just boooooooooooring.

Brianna is excited that she finally knows why Ethan... never took her to work with him or introduced her to his business associates? Ethan teaches at a college. So did my father, and he didn't routinely take me to work with him or introduce me to all of his "business associates" when I was a kid. That shouldn't have been some big mystery. It just doesn't make sense for a child to be running around a college campus if she doesn't need to be.

Wait a minute.

I backed up for a second to find out what she understands about that. Why didn't he take her to work with him, since this is apparently a thing in Rothdienerland?
Her evil relatives found out later you were in the United States. My father showed me a flyer written in Arabic. They had sent it to all the mosques in America, searching for a girl with a heart-shaped birthmark on her forehead. I could not risk anybody else knowing you were here. The fewer people who knew about it, the safer you would be. It was extremely difficult since I worked with people of the Muslim faith at the school... that was all the more reason to be secretive.”

What on earth was his plan for the rest of her life? Was he just going to have a secret child forever? Did he assume there would be no Muslims at, say, Brianna's school? If their town has a big Muslim population, there probably would be.

That's also a lovely bit of Islamophobia, that he assumes that the murderous Muslims are in cahoots with the American Muslims (or maybe he thinks there are no non-murderous Muslims) and will all work together to kill a four-year-old girl. I mean, maybe they were just advertising that she was missing and the American Muslims would turn her in out of goodwill toward her... but he doesn't trust any of his Muslim co-workers with that information? Isn't it going to be much more suspicious when it eventually turns out he's had this child all along?

OH MY GOSH, what on earth did they think when he was suddenly put on trial for abusing a preteen daughter nobody even knew existed? That can't possibly have been good for his reputation.

Ethan explains why he didn't stand up for himself in court:
“It would have been nationwide news. Word would have leaked out about the birthmark.”
Yes, because the birthmark (which was not even seen by anyone there because Brianna never testified in court and none of the witnesses talked about it) was the most newsworthy and therefore most oft-reported aspect of that story.

The books claims Ethan was paranoid after he left jail, but, um, I'd say it started well before. He kept his daughter a secret from everyone (while somehow giving her a fairly normal childhood?) and allowed himself to be put in jail and lose everything because he worried that an extremely wealthy Muslim family was spending their time combing American newspapers for random cases that featured descriptions of Muslim girls with heart-shaped birthmarks because newspapers always report on the physical features of young children who are not even present for the story they're reporting.

Ethan points out that he protected her like God protects her, but I'm pretty sure that's just his way of saying, "My decisions weren't so stupid after all," when, yeah, they kind of were.

She asks for his forgiveness, and he says, "How can I forgive you?" which I thought was a rejection but the book seems to treat it as a non-rhetorical question, as Brianna then runs out of the house "never giving her father a chance to reply, or to extend his forgiveness." Ethan prays, and that's where this chapter ends, and my gosh, am I ready for it to end.

81% of the way through. 61 more pages. Whoooo, the countdown continues!

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