After months of adjusting to her medications and attending sessions with Dr. Cooke, Julia’s depression and anxiety have lessened significantly. She keeps track of her low points in her journal, and finds that she’s able to talk herself through even her worst doubts and insecurities about herself. At her final session with Dr. Cooke, she reads her therapist a poem she’s been working on in which she imagines going into the “vault” of her life and examining everything—her dreams, her secrets, and the beauty in between.
Julia, who refused any and all help offered to her just a few months ago, has come a long way. No longer averse to letting people in, to admitting her shortcomings, or to seeking help, she has unlocked the “vault” within herself and learned to face and deal with even the most difficult parts of herself and her life.
After dinner that evening, Amá tries to engage Julia in a talk “about boys.” Though Julia tries to resist the sex talk, Amá tells her to be careful around boys and protect herself from them. She tries to warn Julia about drugs men put in women’s drinks, but Julia says she already knows all about roofies. Amá is confused by the word “roofies.” She warns Julia worriedly that if she has sex she could get AIDS or become pregnant, and Julia finally cuts her mother off—acknowledging that she’d rather learn how to make tortillas than continue talking about sex. Amá laughs heartily.
This passage shows that Amá is just as overprotective as ever—but Julia, and the readers, know now that at the end of the day all Amá wants is to keep Julia safe from harm. The two women are able to joke about the difficult spots in their relationship, now, having gotten better at seeing and understanding one another over the course of the novel. In some way the same pattern exists, but there is also a new faith and understanding of each other and their underlying love that makes it easier for those same old gears to grind without causing the same hurt.