The story flashes back to Makani’s traumatic experience in Hawaii. Makani is fast asleep when Gabrielle Cruz and Kayla Lum enter her bedroom, blindfold her, and “kidnap” her as part of a hazing ritual for the school swim team. The hazing rituals are notoriously cruel, with each new class of seniors striving to outdo the class that came before them. One convention of the hazing ritual is that veteran swimmers tell rookie swimmers’ parents about the date of the hazing ahead of time. Parents are supposed to play along and surrender their daughters to the “kidnappers,” and they usually warn their daughters in advance. That way, the rookie swimmers know to wear their cute pajamas and do their hair before they go to sleep. But Makani’s parents haven’t warned her, so Makani isn’t expecting visitors. She smells bad, her hair is dirty, and she’s wearing old, ragged pajamas.
Readers finally see why Makani reacted strangely earlier in the book when she accidentally let it slip to Ollie that she was on the swim team back in Hawaii—“the incident” involves something that happened with her swim team, presumably during the cruel hazing ritual. Makani’s parents’ failure to let her know about the “kidnapping” in advance is further evidence of their emotional unavailability. They’re not looking out for her, and the novel attributes the horrors to come to the fact that Makani’s parents didn’t prepare her properly. Furthermore, not giving Makani a heads-up contributes to Makani’s inability to fit in with her peers (she’s in ratty pajamas, unlike everyone else).
Makani’s kidnappers force her into the swim captain’s open-air Jeep. Gabrielle drives, swerving intentionally as Makani struggles to latch her seatbelt. Makani asks where they’re going, but the girls ignore her. Makani discretely lifts her blindfold to see where they are. Palm trees line the road. Makani recognizes the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. They reach their destination only a few minutes later. Makani can hear the ocean. The girls grab Makani by her arms and drag her down to the beach. Something scrapes against Makani’s foot, and she cries out in pain. She hears the crackling flames of a bonfire. People jeer and laugh at Makani as she approaches.
This cruelty Makani experiences during this hazing ritual helps explain why she’s on such high alert in Osborne. She’s seen how easily people who are supposed to support and care about her (her swim team) can turn on her, standing idly by, ridiculing her, and even causing her pain (by not watching where Makani’s feet are and protecting her from sharp objects).
Makani’s kidnappers remove her blindfold, and she sees the whole team assembled before her. Jasmine is there. She and the other rookies clearly knew about the kidnapping in advance: they’re all wearing bikini tops with shorts, and they’ve styled their hair. Some are wearing makeup. Makani is furious. She and Jasmine are supposed to be best friends—why didn’t she Makani about the hazing? Gabrielle commands Makani to remove her shorts. Makani freezes. All the girls start chant: “Strip! Strip! Strip!” Makani removes her shorts, feeling as though she’ll cry at any moment.
Makani views Jasmine’s failure to mention the hazing ritual as a huge betrayal. Suffering at the hands of the senior swim team members is one thing, but experiencing cruelty from someone who’s supposed to be her best friend hurts so much more. Again, knowing these details about Makani’s past helps explain why she has such little faith her friends in Osborne will remain loyal to her; Jasmine’s careless betrayal has taught her not to take anybody’s kindness or sympathy for granted.
The “games” begin. The veterans take markers and write insults on the rookies’ foreheads: “SLUT, NYMPHO, WHORE.” Makani is “BITCH.” The veterans tell the rookies that if they respond to a different name than the one on their forehead, they have to take a shot of vodka. Makani almost immediately messes up by responding to “Makani,” and Gabrielle makes her take a big shot. Afterward, Makani goes to her assigned spot next to Jasmine.
The addition of alcohol to an already cruel, emotionally abusive hazing ritual almost guarantees that the situation will escalate. It helps readers sympathize with Makani, though. Readers still don’t know exactly what she did, but the fact that she did it under the influence of alcohol (that others forced her to drink) makes her a more sympathetic character.
Jasmine grabs Makani’s arm and asks if she’s okay. But Makani is still furious with Jasmine for betraying her. She ignores Jasmine’s question and glares at her. Makani’s anger confuses Jasmine. Inwardly, Makani vows to beat Jasmine at whatever games the veterans have in store of them tonight, most of which involve intense physical activity, humiliation, and excessive drinking. Each rookie must take a shot between games, but the veterans can drink as much or as little as they want. The loser must take two shots.
Throughout the novel, Makani has insinuated that her actions during “the incident” impacted Jasmine to the degree that Jasmine no longer has any interest in being Makani’s friend. So perhaps Makani’s mistake involves getting back at Jasmine in some way. Certainly, Makani’s anger in this scene supports the idea that she’ll retaliate—she’s acting like a pressure cooker that will burst any minute now.
Makani’s determination to beat Jasmine motivates her to push through all the humiliating games. She hears some of the veterans talk about how the winner of the hazing could become the new team captain, a position Makani has always wanted, and this further motivates her. She endures the veterans throwing mayonnaise and Spam at her as she does jumping jacks. Meanwhile, she imagines pulling out locks of Jasmine’s perfect hair and drowning her in the ocean. Next, the veterans throw wet, meaty dog food at the rookies as they do pushups. A glob lands directly in Makani’s face and flies up her nostrils. When Gabrielle tricks her into responding to “Makani,” the veterans force a shot down Makani’s throat. The vodka mixes with the dog food and makes Makani vomit.
Note that this chapter is Makani’s memory of the events on the beach—it’s the story she’s telling Ollie, Alex, and Darby as they sit in the hospital waiting room together. Knowing this, the vivid details the narration employs to talk about the hazing ritual takes on a special meaning. That Makani holds nothing back as she confides in her friends shows that she is committed to being forthcoming with them and taking the steps she needs to take to move forward in her life.
Makani sees that Jasmine is also sick to her stomach. Determined not to lose, Makani tricks Jasmine into responding to “Jasmine,” and the veterans force Jasmine to take a drink. Jasmine looks hurt and betrayed.
Makani gets back at Jasmine for not warning her about the hazing ritual. This helps explain why Makani feels so ashamed in the novel’s present: she sees herself as someone who readily resorted cruelty.
During the final round of games, someone splashes an open bottle of Tabasco at Makani’s eyes. The pain is excruciating. Makani spots a bottle of water in the sand nearby, lying next to a knife and some empty cans. Makani runs to the bottle, desperate to stop the searing pain. But Jasmine gets there first and snatches the bottle. In a fit of blind rage, Makani picks up the knife and slashes at Jasmine’s hair.
This scene helps explain Makani’s oddly intense reaction to Chris asking her if she’s ever used a knife during his investigation into the Osborne Slayings—she assumed he somehow found out about Makani’s attack on Jasmine and was testing her. Readers also see why Makani nurses so much self-hatred: she sees herself as not much better than David Ware, since both of them express their anger with knives.