Everything I Never Told You

Nath Lee Character Analysis

Nath (whose full name is Nathan) is the eldest son of James and Marilyn. Academically gifted, he enjoys studying and dreams of a career that involves outer space. Shortly before Lydia’s death, he is admitted to Harvard and is excited about the prospect of escaping his hometown and family. Nath is convinced that his neighbor Jack Wolff is responsible for Lydia’s death; he questions Jack aggressively and punches him at the end of the novel before being pushed by Hannah into the lake. He remains unaware that Jack had no romantic interest in Lydia and is secretly in love with Nath himself.

Nath Lee Quotes in Everything I Never Told You

The Everything I Never Told You quotes below are all either spoken by Nath Lee or refer to Nath Lee. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Everything I Never Told You published in 2015.
Chapter 4 Quotes

When Nath had been born, then Lydia, Marilyn had not informed her mother, had not even sent a photograph. What was there to say? She and James had never discussed what her mother had said about their marriage that last day: it's not right. She had not ever wanted to think of it again. So when James came home that night, she said simply, "My mother died." Then she turned back to the stove and added, "And the lawn needs mowing," and he understood: they would not talk about it.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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So part of him wanted to tell Nath that he knew: what it was like to be teased, what it was like to never fit in. The other part of him wanted to shake his son, to slap him. To shape him into something different. Later, when Nath was too slight for the football team, too short for the basketball team, too clumsy for the baseball team, when he seemed to prefer reading and poring over his atlas and peering through his telescope to making friends, James would think back to this day in the swimming pool, this first disappointment in his son, this first

and most painful puncture in his fatherly dreams.

Related Characters: James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

The story––as it emerges from the teachers and the kids at school––is so

obvious. Lydia's quietness, her lack of friends. Her recent sinking grades. And, in truth, the strangeness of her family. A family with no friends, a family of misfits. All this shines so brightly that, in the eyes of the police, Jack falls into shadow. A girl like that and a boy like him, who can have––does have––any girl he wants? It is impossible for them to imagine what Nath knows to be true, let alone what he himself imagines.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

Up there––eighty-five miles high, ninety, ninety-five, the counter said––everything on earth would be invisible. Mothers who disappeared, fathers who didn't love you, kids who mocked you––everything would shrink to pinpoints and vanish. Up there: nothing but stars.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

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NaOH became Nath, his small face wide-eyed and reproachful. One morning, consulting the periodic table, instead of helium she thought He and James's face floated up in her mind. Other days, the messages were more subtle: a typo in the textbook––"the common acids, egg. nitric, acetic . . ."—left her in tears, thinking of hard-boiled, sunnyside up, scrambled.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Eggs
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

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She followed him all the way to the lake and to the end of the little pier. The houses on the other side of the water looked like dollhouses, tiny and scaled-down and perfect. Inside, mothers were boiling eggs or baking cakes or making pot roasts, or maybe fathers were poking the coals in the barbecue,

turning the hot dogs with a fork so that the grill made perfect black lines all over. Those mothers had never gone far away and left their children behind. Those fathers had never slapped their children or kicked over the television or laughed at them.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake, Eggs
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

He must really hate Nath, Lydia thought. As much as Nath hates him. She imagined them in class together all these years: Nath sitting close to the front, notebook out, one hand rubbing the little furrow between his eyebrows, the way he did when he was thinking hard. Utterly focused, oblivious to everything else, the answer right there, sealed inside his mouth. And Jack?

Jack would be sprawled in the back corner, shirt untucked, one leg stretched into the aisle. So comfortable. So certain of himself. Not worried about what anyone thought. No wonder they couldn't stand each other.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

It happened so quickly that if she were a different person, Hannah might have wondered if she'd imagined it. No one else saw. Nath was still turned away; Lydia had her eyes shut now against the sun. But the moment flashed lightning-bright to Hannah. Years of yearning had made her sensitive, the way a starving dog twitches its nostrils at the faintest scent of food. She could not mistake it. She recognized it at once: love, one-way deep adoration that bounced off and did not bounce back; careful, quiet love that didn't care and went on anyway. It was too familiar to be surprising. Something deep inside her stretched out and curled around Jack like a shawl, but he didn't notice.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Hannah Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

That long-ago day, sitting in this very spot on the dock, she had already begun to feel it: how hard it would be to inherit their parents' dreams. How suffocating to be so loved. She had felt Nath's hands on her shoulders and been almost grateful to fall forward, to let herself sink… Don't let me sink, she had thought as she reached for his hand, and he had promised not to when he took it. This moment, Lydia thought. This is where it all went wrong.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake
Page Number: 273-274
Explanation and Analysis:

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Nath Lee Character Timeline in Everything I Never Told You

The timeline below shows where the character Nath Lee appears in Everything I Never Told You. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...cereal; Marilyn’s husband James is already on the way to work. At home, Lydia’s brother Nath yawns, and Lydia’s sister Hannah remarks that Lydia is slow to come downstairs. Marilyn goes... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...in the morning and Hannah asks if they should still go to school. Marilyn instructs Nath to drive them there, and she assures her children that she will figure out what’s... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
The police tell James and Nath that lots of teenagers run away from home, and that often teenage girls are angry... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...the policeman a photo from the past Christmas. Lydia was in a bad mood and Nath tried to cheer her up, but it didn’t work, and Lydia is scowling in the... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...list of Lydia’s friends who might be able to help them discover where she is. Nath says nothing, but he knows these girls are not Lydia’s friends. They sometimes spend hours... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...them have any idea where Lydia might be. Hannah sits under the table and touches Nath’s toe with her own, but he doesn’t react. James finishes calling the last friend, Karen... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Nath looks out his bedroom window at Jack’s house and plans to sneak out to find... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
On Wednesday morning, James calls Officer Fiske again, but there is no news. Hannah and Nath stay home from school, but the family finds it difficult to do anything—watch TV, read,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...way to the cemetery, Marilyn turns her head to avoid looking at the lake, and Nath and Hannah wonder if she will do this for the rest of her life. (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
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Nath has been given permission to take the final three weeks of the semester off, which... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
James angrily tells Nath that he is driving Marilyn and Hannah home, and that when Nath has calmed down... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
When Nath finally goes home, he notices with satisfaction that there is a police car outside Janet... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Nath walks home and immediately goes up to his bedroom, purposefully avoiding his family. Marilyn and... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...gets dressed. He tells Louisa “Goodnight” and rushes out to his car. Back at home, Nath continues to stare at Jack’s house through the window, and Hannah replays the events of... (full context)
Chapter 4
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...her mother since her wedding day, and she never told Doris about the births of Nath or Lydia. When she tells James about Doris’ death, she makes it clear that she... (full context)
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...eggs properly for the children, who constantly ask when Marilyn is coming home. James takes Nath to the Y, leaving Lydia—who hasn’t yet learned to swim—with Mrs. Allen. James has been... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
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James notices that Nath is “It” in a game of Marco Polo, but that the children are quickly deserting... (full context)
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Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
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Back at home, James wants to comfort Nath but feels that telling him “it gets better” would be a lie. When Marilyn comes... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...gets dressed, worried that she will cry again. She likewise avoids eye contact when kissing Nath and Lydia goodbye, but tells them to “be good.” After they go, Marilyn takes a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
...spent time on the lake; Lydia would cover herself in baby oil and James and Nath would swim. Now, they will never go to the lake again. No one talks about... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...copy of the news article about Lydia’s death. It mentions the fact that Lydia and Nath stood out as the only non-white students at school and that few students knew Lydia... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...kidnapped Lydia. Fiske promises that they are considering “all possibilities” and asks to speak to Nath. (full context)
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Nath steps outside with Officer Fiske, thinking that if Lydia had been a “normal” teenage girl... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
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Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...as a humiliating racial insult. James leaves and Marilyn shuts herself in her bedroom. When Nath returns, Hannah explains that their parents have had a fight. (full context)
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Without verbally agreeing to do so, both Nath and Hannah head to the lake. Meanwhile, James circles the lake in his car, replaying... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...resolves to understand everything about Lydia and what happened to her. Meanwhile, by the lake, Nath wonders what happened to Lydia’s body. Suddenly Jack appears on his way back from the... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
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Hannah tries to stop her brother from approaching Jack, and, though Nath resists, she eventually drags him to his knees. Jack glances over and Nath is certain... (full context)
Chapter 6
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...Marilyn and that they will find her soon. At school, the other children gossip about Nath and Lydia’s missing mother. Meanwhile, in reality, James knows that Marilyn left voluntarily; he found... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
...sandwiches the way they like them. The family rarely leaves the house, and one day Nath begs to be taken to the lake. James refuses, saying he doesn’t want to “play... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
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Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...a while. She asks after Marilyn, and James mentions that she is gone “indefinitely.” Inside, Nath asks what indefinitely means, and James urges him to forget what Mrs. Allen said, calling... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
A few days later, Nath is happily distracted by the launch of the Gemini 9. Nath is riveted and obsesses... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...table to read the book again. It is the 3rd of July, but Lydia and Nath both know there won’t be any celebrations the next day. Looking at the book, Lydia... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
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Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...time he doesn’t answer Marilyn panics and rings every five minutes until he does. Once, Nath picks up and Marilyn is desperate to speak to him, but she still says nothing.... (full context)
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Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
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When they arrive home, Lydia and Nath are at the kitchen table. James announces, “Your mother’s home,” even though the children can... (full context)
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Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
However, Nath was mistaken about the food. Marilyn refuses to cook, buying only pre-prepared food. At the... (full context)
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Mrs. Allen falls asleep in front of the TV and Nath heads outside. Lydia asks where he is going, before eventually following him. They walk out... (full context)
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Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
At Middlewood Elementary’s welcome-back picnic at the beginning of the school year, Nath and James enter the father-son egg race. They are in first place until Nath trips... (full context)
Chapter 7
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...and Marilyn talk to Lydia at length about social and academic pursuits, before briefly turning Nath to ask how he is doing. Each time this happens, Nath panics, not wanting James... (full context)
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Under her mattress, Lydia has been hiding a letter informing Nath that he has been admitted to the Harvard Class of 1981. Nath has been checking... (full context)
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When Nath’s guidance counselor asks him about his career plans, he whispers that he is interested in... (full context)
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The doorbell rings—it’s Jack. He hands Nath an envelope, which was accidentally delivered to the Wolffs. Jack points to the seal, saying... (full context)
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...to find a job and ends up forced to become a housewife. Everyone forgets about Nath and his letter from Harvard. After dinner, Lydia says congratulations to Nath, adding: “I knew... (full context)
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...she really just wants for herself and then proceeds to take them from Lydia’s room. Nath feels a hint of pity for his sister. Now that the news about Harvard has... (full context)
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...be a good listener and let people spend most of their time thinking about themselves. Nath tries to apologize, but Lydia doesn’t feel like talking to him. Nath points his new... (full context)
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...and he replies that he’s “not the one nagging about her homework.” Lydia silently begs Nath to interrupt, and Nath obliges, telling James that he needs him to sign some forms... (full context)
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...gets her assignments back it always looks like she’s about to cry. Jack asks if Nath will be upset when he learns that Lydia is smoking, and Lydia responds that he’ll... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...Louisa’s apartment. He and Marilyn are barely speaking. One evening, he gets home to see Nath holding the refrigerator door open, deciding on what to eat. James barks at his son... (full context)
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James instantly wants to retract his words, but it is too late. Nath punches the countertop and runs out of the kitchen. James notices a smashed egg lying... (full context)
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Back home, Marilyn tells Nath and Hannah that the police have ruled Lydia’s death a suicide. Nath calls Officer Fiske... (full context)
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Hannah is so familiar with unrequited love that she immediately recognized Jack’s desire for Nath. Unsure of how else to acknowledge this, she touched Jack’s toe with her own, and... (full context)
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...but he is not there either. In the morning, as Marilyn wonders what to do, Nath announces that he thinks James is with Louisa. Marilyn finds Louisa’s address in the phone... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...doctor, and James’ constant badgering about social activities. At first Lydia tries not to mention Nath, but Jack is clearly curious about him. He asks about Nath’s interest in space and... (full context)
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Jack asks if Lydia will tell Nath he’s “not such a bad guy,” and Lydia smiles and says Nath wouldn’t believe her.... (full context)
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Nath eventually gets over his initial anger, but Lydia is haunted by the incident. After a... (full context)
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...her that she can take it again, but all Lydia can think is that when Nath leaves, she will be trapped. (full context)
Chapter 10
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On his way out, James passes Nath and Hannah, but says nothing to them. After James leaves, Nath grabs his car keys... (full context)
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On the other side of Middlewood, Nath is at the liquor store. He has set a small bottle of whisky on the... (full context)
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...he feels, but he is stunned by how wrong he has been. Back in Middlewood, Nath feels a gentle hand on his shoulder, along with encouraging words. At first he thinks... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Days before Lydia’s death, Nath is desperate to leave Middlewood. As he packs for his campus visit, he also mentally... (full context)
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Later that night, Lydia goes into Nath’s room, wanting to tell him about Louisa. She sees Nath on the floor, staring out... (full context)
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That evening, Lydia calls Nath’s host at Harvard; when someone picks up the phone, she can hear the sounds of... (full context)
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...be after you now,” and Marilyn reminds her to come straight home after school because Nath will be back. That afternoon, Lydia suggests to Jack that they drive up to the... (full context)
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...Lydia asks if she’s not good enough for him. Jack replies that the problem is Nath, and when Lydia tells him Nath doesn’t matter, Jack replies “he matters to me.” Lydia... (full context)
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...help. Surprised, Marilyn replies that “there’s not much time left” before exams begin. At dinner, Nath talks excitedly about his visit to Harvard and James occasionally joins in with nostalgic remarks... (full context)
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The day Nath pushed her into the lake was also the day that Lydia first realized how “suffocating”... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...sleeping and that she told Marilyn James would come back. She doesn’t tell him that Nath is also home, after having been dropped off by a police car, smelling of alcohol... (full context)
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...learn more about what really happened to Lydia, and for the tensions between James and Nath to subside. Slowly, they begin uncovering things they kept silent and hidden from each other... (full context)
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The next morning, Nath sees Jack across the road, walking his dog. Although Nath hasn’t eaten in 24 hours... (full context)
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In the water, Nath thinks of Lydia, falling beneath the surface to the bottom of the lake. He wants... (full context)