A lot has happened since Julia left for Mexico. Juanga has a new boyfriend, Mr. Ingman is engaged to another teacher, and Lorena has missed her period—and believes she’s pregnant. After school one day, Julia takes the train to a nearby clinic with Lorena so that she can have a pregnancy test. Julia can tell her friend is nervous, and asks what she’ll do if it’s positive. Lorena says there’s no way she’s having a baby—she doesn’t want to get stuck in their neighborhood. Julia asks Lorena how she’ll pay for an abortion, and Lorena says she’ll steal a stash of money José Luis keeps in his closet.
The world has spun on without Julia, and she’s experiencing a little bit of whiplash as she tries to catch up with all she’s missed. Lorena’s pregnancy scare brings back memories of Julia’s cousin Vanessa and the way that to get stuck in their neighborhood with a baby is to get further entrenched in the cyclical, inescapable poverty that they’ve been working so hard to escape. Lorena’s plan to steal money for an abortion further shows how poverty can lead to reckless, dangerous action.
Lorena’s test reveals that she’s not pregnant. She and Julia leave the clinic in high spirits, and Lorena says she wants to celebrate. Julia points out that they don’t have any money—but Lorena reveals that she’s already stolen five hundred dollars in cash from José Luis. The two girls head downtown to a fancy seafood restaurant overlooking the Chicago River, and gorge themselves on a platter of seafood as they discuss Julia’s love life. Lorena says she wants to meet Connor, and Julia texts him, asking him to come join them.
The girls are high on the good news about the negative test, and full of restlessness and the feeling of potential. They decide to spend a ton of money on delicious fine food, cementing that for other characters in the novel—not just Julia—ravenous consumption of food is tied to ambition, dreams, and the desire for more.
Julia tells Lorena the truth about Olga—that she was pregnant when she died, and had been seeing a married man for years. Lorena can hardly believe that the innocent Olga had such a huge secret, and asks if Julia is going to tell her parents—Julia confesses she hasn’t decided what to do. She says that learning Olga’s secrets might just upset them, though she admits there are “too many secrets” in her family already. Lorena says she thinks Julia should tell her parents, but Julia isn’t so sure.
Julia is aware of the power of the secret she’s keeping—as well as the power of the other secrets within her family. She doesn’t want to perpetuate a culture of lies anymore, but at the same time, is beginning to see that things are not so black and white—and that Lorena’s perspective about radical truthfulness might not be useful for Julia’s precarious familial situation. She sees how secrets can cause damage, but also how they can be a form of protection, too.
After lunch, the girls meet up with Connor in the city. Lorena clearly doesn’t like Connor right off the bat, but when Julia pulls Lorena aside and points out that she was the one who wanted to meet him, Lorena softens and tries to make some conversation—though she’s still pretty icy as they settle in at a coffee shop for some snacks. When Connor goes to the bathroom, Julia asks Lorena why she’s still giving Connor such a hard time. Lorena points out that Connor probably looks down on the girls and sees them as “ghetto.” Julia insists Connor isn’t like that, but Lorena argues that “they all are.”
Lorena is skeptical of Connor from the get-go. She’s protective of Julia, just as Amá is—she doesn’t want her to get hurt or to operate under false hopes. To Lorena, it’s possible that Julia’s relationship with Connor represents Julia’s desire to escape the neighborhood and socioeconomic class she and Lorena share—a slight to Lorena for sure, and an ambition she wants to tell Julia might be too lofty. More broadly, though, Lorena is skeptical of the possibility of any cross-cultural, cross-socioeconomic relationships. She can’t believe that anyone of Connor’s class can fully avoid looking down on those of a “lower” class. It’s interesting that the book never rejects Lorena’s argument. Rather it simply lets it stand, as another complication in a complicated word.