The narrative switches to Addy’s perspective. It is Thursday evening, and Addy knows she should be doing homework before Jake stops by, but instead sits at her vanity playing with her hair. The doorbell rings, and Addy knows Jake has arrived. While he talks with Addy’s mother downstairs, Addy thinks about Simon. He had few friends, and though he had a few attempts at romance—one of which involved Keely, Cooper’s girlfriend—he was unattached when he died. Addy thinks Simon and Bronwyn could have been a good match—but she thinks of Bronwyn’s face earlier, during Budapest’s questioning, and notes how “not sad” she looked about Simon’s death.
Addy is clearly feeling stressed about the fracas surrounding Simon’s death. In this passage, she attempts to piece together the disparate threads and unlikely connections surrounding Simon’s death. She knows that Simon wanted love, attention, and popularity—but judging from Bronwyn and other people’s reactions to his death, he was never able to achieve those things with any of his classmates.
Addy and Jake lie down on the bed together; Jake tells Addy that Simon’s mother called him and asked if he would be a pallbearer at Simon’s funeral on Sunday. Addy remembers that Jake and Simon were friends in grade school and middle school, before Jake got into sports. Addy thinks that Simon started About That to impress Jake and even try and restore their friendship, but the move backfired when the gossip app stared making Simon more enemies than friends; for Simon, though, being feared was even better than being liked.
The unlikely connections between the novel’s tangential characters continue to unfold and unravel: the idea that Simon lived his whole life in pursuit of the kind of popularity his former best friend had shows how the economy of gossip and secrets at Bayview became so pervasive and so destructive.
Jake tells Addy that their friend group’s trip to the beach tomorrow is still on. Although Addy doesn’t want a kid named TJ to be invited, Jake confirms that he’s going to be there. Jake and Addy begin kissing—they only started having sex a few months ago, though everyone at school thinks they’ve been sleeping together for years. When Jake asks if Addy wants to have sex, she hears her mother’s voice in her head telling her that “if you say no too much pretty soon someone else will say yes,” and she agrees.
Addy’s relationship to sex and sexuality is deeply flawed. As a result both of her mother’s coaching and the toxic atmosphere at her school, she sees sex as a kind of social currency; a way of cementing her connection to Jake and thus her popularity.
The narrative switches to Nate’s perspective. It is still Thursday evening, and Nate is at home in the ugly, crumbling house he shares with his “half-dead” father, who is constantly drunk or passed out, living off a settlement he won when he sustained an accident at his roofing job. Nate’s bipolar mother is not actually dead—that’s just what he tells people. In reality, she abandoned their family years ago, and Nate now makes some money for himself by dealing weed and painkillers to supplement his father’s meager income.
As the narrative delves deeper into the reality of Nate’s life, it becomes clear that he is dealing with more serious issues than any of his peers. His druggie persona is a casualty of how rough his childhood has been—and how much he has had to sacrifice and lie just to survive.
Nate checks on his beloved lizard, Stan, and then answers his phone when it beeps. A girl named Amber whom he met at a party last month has texted him to see if he wants to hook up, and he invites her to come over. Another text comes in from one of his friends, Chad—it is a link to an anonymous blog headlined “About This.” The blog post, written anonymously, details a mysterious individual’s motivation for killing Simon Kelleher—someone “everybody want[ed] dead.” Chad thinks the blog is a “sick joke,” but Nate, who spent an hour being questioned by a police officer alongside three people who looked “guilty as hell” earlier that afternoon, doesn’t find it so funny.
The bombshell dropped at the end of this chapter—the revelation that someone is carrying on Simon’s legacy by creating an imitation blog that seeks to keep Simon’s app alive—deepens the mystery and shows just how inescapable the climate of secrets, lies, and gossip is at Bayview High.