After school, Ollie holds open the door of the Crown Vic for Makani. She jokes about feeling like she’s done something bad. Ollie jokes back that this is how he always feels, but there’s truth to both of their words—it’s why they’re connected to each other, even if Ollie doesn’t know about Makani’s past. Makani feels on edge being in the old cruiser—she hasn’t had good experiences with the police.
By defying her friends’ concerns and accepting a ride from Ollie, Makani positions herself as someone who fights back against rumor and speculation. She’s siding with someone who’s been the victim of rumor, giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of going along with the crowd who judges them. Makani’s remark insinuates that she knows what it’s like to have done something bad—though it remains unclear how literal she’s being. Does she know what it’s like to transgress generally, or does she know what it feels like to be inside a police car?
Attempting to flirt, Makani asks Ollie if he has done something bad. He says he has. She says that she has, too, but neither elaborates. Makani compliments Ollie’s pink hair and means it. He happily recounts how angry the hair made Chris when he first saw it. Makani laughs. Ollie tells her nobody from Osborne has a laugh like hers—that she stands out. Makani tells Ollie she stands out because she’s not white. Ollie admits that this is true, too. To Makani’s relief, Ollie doesn’t follow up with an invasive question about her ethnicity. So far, only Darby, who is trans and understands the discomfort of invasive questions, has managed not to ask Makani, who is half African American and half Native Hawaiian, prying questions about her multiracial background.
Makani and Ollie want to know more about each other, yet they both choose to remain silent when the other attempts to find out more about their past. This suggests that Ollie is just as ashamed and guilty about whatever misdeeds he’s done as Makani is about her mysterious Hawaii incident. At the same time, Makani respects Ollie’s restraint; she’d rather he respect her privacy, since it means he’s less likely to find out about whatever unsavory incident she was involved in back in Hawaii.
Makani and Ollie are both free that afternoon, so Ollie asks if Makani wants to hang out. She does, but she hesitates. Then she reluctantly admits that Ollie will have to meet Grandma Young first. To Makani’s surprise, Ollie is fine with this. He explains that this is just how people do things in the Midwest. When they arrive at Grandma Young’s house, Ollie is impressed. It's the most beautiful street in town, and he’d always wished he could live there when he was a kid. Ollie explains that he still lives on his parents’ old farm, though they’ve sold most of their land to the neighbors, who have added it to an enormous corn maze. Everybody knows about the Martin Family Fun Corn Maze. Billboards advertise it all around town.
So far, Ollie is a far cry from the deviant, sketchy person Alex and Darby—and the many rumors floating around Osborne—have made him out to be. If he’s half as bad as people claim he is, would he really be so open to meeting Grandma Young? Ollie’s willingness to meet Grandma Young seems to put Makani at ease, reassuring her that she’s right to trust Ollie, and her friends’ decision to believe rumors rather than let Ollie speak on his own behalf is wrong and judgmental.
Just then, Grandma Young’s booming, angry voice interrupts Ollie and Makani’s conversation. She’s standing on the porch, hands on her hips. Makani exits the car. Grandma Young looks like she’s about to cry. She saw the car pull up and thought the police had escorted Makani home from school. Makani explains herself and Ollie gets out of the car. Makani inwardly imagines how horrifying Ollie, with his pink hair and lip piercing, must seem to Grandma Young. But Ollie introduces himself, shakes Grandma Young’s hand, and doesn’t flinch as she looks him up and down. Grandma Young briefly interrogates Ollie about his age (he’s 18), job, and car. Then she scolds Makani for not inviting Ollie inside.
Grandma Young demonstrates a degree of thoughtfulness and maturity that is uncommon among Makani’s peers by refraining from judging Ollie based on his outward appearance. The novel suggests, perhaps, that while everyone can fall victim to placing too much weight on baseless rumors, it’s far more common for young people, who have less life experience, to do this, than people who’ve had more exposure to different kinds of people.
Inside, Grandma Young’s old-fashioned kitchen and hospitality mortify Makani, but Ollie seems to get along with Grandma Young just fine. They move to the living room. The atmosphere remains formal as Grandma Young and Ollie get to know each other. Ollie points to Grandma Young’s jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table. His mother had liked puzzles, he explains. Although his dad and Chris always found them boring, Ollie likes how each puzzle piece has an assigned place. Finally, Makani can’t take it anymore. She gets up and says they have to go. Ollie explains that they’re going to go to Sonic for slushes. Grandma Young tells Ollie it was nice meeting him and says he’s welcome to come over and help out on the puzzle any time he wants.
Ollie’s interest in jigsaw puzzles seems to stem from the fact that they remind him of a time when his mother was alive. This points to the idea of grief and loss, emphasizing the importance of keeping memories of the deceased alive as a means of working through grief. In general, Ollie seems to have a better grasp than Makani on handling personal hardship and loss; Makani wants to avoid and deny whatever traumatic thing happened to her in Hawaii, whereas Ollie has learned to confront and accept the loss of his parents in small ways.
Outside, Makani compliments Ollie on his ability to lie. She asks where they’re really going. Ollie says he’s taking Makani to the ocean. They drive through Osborne and exit the city limits. They don’t talk, but the silence feels comfortable. They drive past flat, golden countryside and old farmhouses. Finally, Ollie turns down a dirt road surrounded by cornfields. It feels secluded. Makani’s friends would kill her if they knew. Makani tries to send a text to apologize to them for her behavior earlier, but there’s no signal. Ollie cuts the engine and they get out of the car. The ground is wet and muddy, and the air is brisk.
Driving Makani out to a cornfield certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence that Ollie doesn’t have nefarious intentions for Makani (like her friends think he does). But Makani’s flashback to her summer fling with Ollie recalled the time they drove to a cornfield to have a private, intimate moment, so it’s possible that he’s more interested in romancing Makani than murdering her.
Makani is confused—she thought they were going to the beach. “The ocean,” Ollie corrects. He knows that she misses Hawaii. He hops on top of the car and offers his hand to Makani, then he invites her to look again. This time, Makani sees the beauty of the “ocean” of corn that surrounds her. She thanks Ollie for bringing her here. They make out for a bit until Ollie’s phone rings. Ollie hops inside the car to take the call. Makani thinks this is strange. Ollie ends the call and stares out at Makani, looking disappointed.
This is a sweet moment between Ollie and Makani, and one that advances their relationship. Ollie has seen how Makani feels alienated and homesick in Osborne, so he's taken her to this “ocean” of corn to remind her of the beloved hometown she left behind. This is another example of how Makani’s relationship to cornfields changes according to her mood and the people she’s with. Normally the corn is stifling and a reminder of her exile, but with Ollie, the cornfields take on a romantic, beautiful connotation. Again, place doesn’t make a person happy or miserable: their attitude and relationships to others are what determines their satisfaction with life.
Makani joins Ollie in the car. Ollie says his manager called to say they need him to come in to work early to cover for a girl who was fired after being caught stealing. Out of nowhere, Haley’s school photo flashes through Makani’s head. Ollie apologizes for having to cut their plans short. Makani asks him why he went inside the car to take the call. He explains that he gets better service inside. Makani argues that she couldn’t even send a text, but Ollie just shrugs. They kiss, and Makani forgets about Haley.
That Makani asks Ollie about taking the phone call in his car—where she couldn’t hear his conversation—shows that she’s somewhat suspicious of him. Does Makani—like Darby and Alex—suspect that Ollie is capable of something as terrible as murder? Does she really trust him? Though she wants to—as evidenced by her willingness to brush aside her disconcerted feeling—it’s important to note that Makani isn’t totally without doubts about Ollie.