So, to get away from the press, Brianna and co. retreat to Brianna's private island in the Caribbean. Yup, four years into her career, she's already wealthy enough to buy an entire island. And thought it would be an important thing to do so. But for some reason Sonya's still running all Brianna's errands by herself with no help at all.
Oh, wait, they then get into the story of how Brianna bought the island. Apparently a Mexican drug lord sold it to her because he had gotten arrested and was in jail in Arizona (maybe he knows Ethan) and didn't want the government to seize it. And also he was a fan of Brianna's music, because everyone in the world is.
Ethan smiled at the story. He looked proudly at his successful daughter. “God protected you all along, didn’t He?”"I'm so glad God protected you from... not having a private island by getting a Mexican drug lord to sell you his."
Seriously, that sentence doesn't make any sense at all after that story.
Brianna then reveals for the first time in the book that she likes to write music on her private island. And then... weeks pass. Brianna and Ethan bond. Then they realize 1) they need to visit Brianna's mother's grave again because her time in Iraq went so well before, and 2) they need to "confront" Susan about... something. What did Susan do to them? Susan was a crappy wife and a crappy mom, but it is entirely Brianna and Ethan's fault that Ethan went to jail. Why not just let the woman be?
Because this book has to show off its heavy-handed morals about what happens to you when you're not a Christian, that's why!
That was the entire twentieth chapter, so let's continue.
They find Susan, but can't find Ethan's other living child, Alana (in case you don't remember, one of Ethan's sons died in a gang fight and the other died of alcohol poisoning because everything got really abruptly bad once he went to jail).
They go visit Susan, who's living with her parents. For some reason, their yard looks terrible now, because when you make bad life decisions, your yard just starts to look awful, like some kind of reverse Dorian Gray situation. That or they're too busy being Bad People to take care of their lawn.
Susan's parents open the door and recognizes Brianna as Janna from the past.
There was no denying it, the black hair and bright blue eyes gave evidence of who she was.Because nobody has ever dyed their hair black or worn bright blue contacts to change their appearance. Nor has anyone else ever had that combination of features. I mean, they should be figuring out it's her, but more because she showed up at their door and less because she happens to have the same hair color and eye color as the girl they knew like six years ago.
Ethan spoke curtly. “We would like to talk with Susan.”
“So would we,” the man replied sadly.Now, uh, I assumed this meant Susan wasn't there or that she was dead, but apparently it just means that she is "a shell of a human being." Her parents spent their whole life savings on "Susan and her problems" and her bad life choices, which can only have started six years ago because Susan was doing just fine before then. She was married (if not well), had kids (if not well), and had an extremely successful job where she got to be a model and a marketing expert. But apparently in the last six years, everything went ridiculously wrong and her parents spent all their money on her and now they are... too poor to mow their lawn, I guess.
“Please, just get her. We want to get this over with, so we can get on with our lives.” Ethan’s voice grew impatient.Yeah, this sounds like a GREAT idea. Here's a novel concept: How about you find closure without hunting down and "confronting" your ex-wife? That's what most people have to do.
They go see Susan, and she is a mess -- feeble, malnourished, losing her hair, her teeth are decaying, and her mind is broken. Then we hear her story: She had an affair with someone at her cosmetics company and they got fired but started their own cosmetic company, only for him to cheat on her two years later, take their money, and run, so Susan's parents had to cover all that money.
So all the stuff that happened to her really has happened in just four years. (Maybe five, I'm losing track of how much time has passed.) In that time, she became an anorexic, bulimic alcoholic, got married two more times, was beaten by both those husbands and almost died in the hospital, and then moved in with her parents. Now she's just completely broken and mostly incoherent.
They ask about Alana.
“Your children were too far gone when we realized they were headed down the wrong path. After your divorce, they never went back to church. They just seemed to drift on their own.”UGGGGGH.
This entire section is all about "If you don't go to church and be a Christian, you will never be able to make a good choice again and your life will fall apart completely because that's just what happens."
Guys, I have friends who are not Christians. I have friends who have left Christianity. I have friends who are still part of Christianity but don't go to church. *cough*sometimesthat'sme*cough* Do I think that they're only seconds away from becoming gang members and alcoholics? Uh, no. Not even a little bit. That's insulting and stupid and doesn't seem even remotely realistic.
Of course, I do want to take a second here to point out that Brianna wasn't a Christian for quite a lot of her musical career, and she catapulted to super stardom, but the book knew the whole time that she was gonna get saved. The book says at one point that she hit "rock bottom," but... has she seen what happened to the rest of her family? If being tremendously wealthy and famous and talented without any substance abuse problems, with a loving support system is "rock bottom," then what in the world do you call Susan's life?
This is just going to get worse and more awful and more explicit about the stuff it's only hinting at now, so I'm going to call it a day and take a break before I have to plunge back in next week. Whee.
36 pages to go.