Chris stands in the doorway. He’s angry about Ollie ditching school again, not to mention doing so when there’s an unidentified killer on the loose. Ollie doesn’t seem to want to understand the gravity of the situation. Haley and Matt were popular, he argues, and he’s the opposite of that. Chris is unamused. He asks Makani if her grandmother knows that she’s here. Makani wants to lie, but Chris is a police officer, so she tells the truth. Chris orders Ollie to drive Makani home. When Ollie drops Makani off at home, they make plans to hang out tomorrow.
The tension Perkins has established at the end of the previous chapter turns out to be a false alarm. Ollie's seeming inability to take the ongoing murders seriously might be another attempt to plant doubt about Ollie. Is Ollie unconcerned because he's the killer? It's uncertain, at this point, but it's worth keeping in mind that the book has repeatedly presented opportunities that place Ollie’s veracity in question without providing a clear answer, so it’s not yet possible to rule him out as a suspect.
Later that night, Makani is finishing up loading the dishwasher. Grandma Young doesn’t know that Makani was at Ollie’s house. Ollie doesn’t think Chris will tell—even though he’s Ollie’s legal guardian, he still wants to be the cool older brother. That night, Darby texts Makani: “Can we talk?” Then he texts again: “I mean, phone-talk?” Concerned, Makani retreats to her bedroom to call Darby. Darby hesitates, clearly not wanting to say what he’s about to say. He and Alex have been talking. They think that Ollie’s alibis for the nights of the murders aren’t solid. Also, Matt and his friends have bullied Ollie for years, and Haley rejected him when he asked her out in the eighth grade. Darby and Alex think that Ollie is taking advantage of Makani, and they’re worried about her.
Darby presents a compelling—if largely circumstantial—case against Ollie, reasoning that his behavior and lack of a solid alibi mean he could plausibly be the killer. Whether Makani has witnessed enough suspicious actions to heed Darby and Alex’s concerns or not remains unclear at this point.
Makani is angry and insulted by her friends talking about her behind her back. She also thinks their suspicions about Ollie are baseless. Still, she knows Darby is just trying to be a good friend. Some of the things Darby said about Ollie might be odd, but Ollie’s just not a murderer, and Makani is sad that Darby is the friend making these claims when he’s normally the thoughtful one. Makani hangs up.
Makani’s motivations for defending Ollie are complicated and ambiguous. On one hand, her romantic feelings for Ollie could inhibit her from entertaining the logical doubts that Darby suggested. On the other hand, Makani could also be reacting defensively, upset that her friends would ostracize somebody based on rumor and gossip, which is what happened to Makani back in Hawaii.
Makani has trouble sleeping that night. The next morning, she ignores apology texts from Alex and Darby. Later, she finds the shoes she wore yesterday at the foot of the stairs, which is odd. Yesterday’s socks are lying next to her closet. This is odd, too, but Makani doesn’t think anything of it at the time. She anguishes over Ollie. She tries to convince herself that the mistakes he’s rumored to have made long ago aren’t proof that he’ll make worse mistakes later. She wants to think Ollie is a good person, because she wants to think the same thing about herself.
Makani’s misplaced shoes mirrors Haley finding the egg timer at the foot of the stairs in Chapter One. The parallel between these two scenes could foreshadow a future attack on Makani by the killer. Finally, this scene proves that Makani’s drive to defend Ollie is motivated, at least in part, by self-preservation; she wants to believe in the best of Ollie because she wants to believe the best in herself. She wants to believe that Ollie is undeserving of all the negative rumors kids spread about him because she wants to believe that she, too, was underserving of whatever bad rumors kids back home spread about her.
Ollie comes over that afternoon. They hang out in the living room, since Grandma Young won’t let Makani hang out with boys in her bedroom. Ollie and Grandma Young work on the jigsaw puzzle. Makani tries to join them, but she gets bored and goes to the kitchen to fetch some snacks instead. Eventually, the news comes on. A reporter is interviewing Caleb Greeley, a boy with a country accent and a cross around his neck, about the recent murders. Caleb says he and his family have been praying for the families. Ollie mentions that Caleb is a weekend supervisor at Greeley’s Foods. He’s the grandson of the original owner, and his uncle runs the store now. Makani wonders if it upsets Ollie that Caleb is a supervisor when Ollie has put in more hours than him.
Makani’s brief contemplation that Ollie might harbor resentment over nepotism getting Caleb a leadership position suggests that she’s perhaps internalized Darby and Alex’s concerns about Ollie. To a degree, Makani has allowed herself to consider that Ollie could feel resentment and anger that he simply hides from outsiders, keeping it bottled up inside until he cracks. Has Makani fallen victim to the allure of gossip? Is she contemplating that Ollie is hiding secret resentment now because she has started to believe in the rumors about him? At any rate, Makani’s doubts about Ollie point to one of the book’s broader ideas, which is that humans—even those people think they’re close to—are fundamentally unknowable. A person will never be able to fully know what others are thinking and hiding from them.
The news station is calling Caleb a “friend of the victims,” but Ollie scoffs and admits that Caleb hardly knew them. Makani tells Grandma Young that she should turn off the news, since it’s not even telling her the truth. Grandma Young tells Makani to let her grieve the way she wants to grieve. Makani wonders why it comforts people to talk about tragedy. Is it because tragedies bring people together, or is it because tragedies are addictive? Makani watches Ollie and her grandmother high-five when they finally find a tricky puzzle piece, and she knows in her heart that Ollie can’t possibly be a murderer.
Caleb’s disingenuous concern for the families echoes some of the other showy displays of sympathy the book has presented. For instance, in Chapter Seven, Matt Butler griped about his girlfriend Lauren inserting herself into the tragedy of Haley’s death by pretending she was good friends with Haley when, in reality, the girls hardly knew each other. In all these situations, the novel highlights a tendency for kids to want to be a part of the tragedy. This raises the question of whether the kids are trying to connect to each other through their shared grief.