Before moving to Osborne, Nebraska, Makani Young attacked her best friend Jasmine in a cruel hazing ritual that went awry. Afterward, Makani’s friends turned on her. Their abandonment hurts, but Makani also feels that she deserves it. In Nebraska, she constantly fears that her new friends, Darby and Alex, and her crush, Ollie, will abandon her if they find out about her past. Makani isn’t the only character who is hiding a shameful secret. Rodrigo Morales, Osborne High’s resident computer whiz, used to be an internet troll who harassed female gamers on the internet. Even though he has since realized the error of his ways, he worries that his earlier misogyny will always define him. Matt Butler, the star football player, becomes increasingly paranoid that he has Chronic Encephalopathy (CTE) and is afraid that a diagnosis will cause him to fail at a dream his father and coaches have worked so tirelessly for him to achieve. While David Ware murders Rodrigo and Matt before they can work through their internalized feelings of shame and guilt, Makani ultimately learns that she doesn’t have to let her past define her. When she finally confides in her friends about the hazing ritual, they respond not with judgment, but with compassion and understanding. Although Makani’s actions were undoubtedly wrong and hurtful, her friends are adamant that they were the actions of a good person who made a series of mistakes—not an indication of a sinister, fundamentally flawed person. In their eyes, the real Makani is the kind, thoughtful person with whom they have chosen as their friend. When Makani’s friends respond to her honesty with compassion and understanding, they show her that she is capable of growth and worthy of love and forgiveness. There’s Someone Inside Your House argues that a person’s past wrongs do not define them and that everybody is worthy of forgiveness and redemption.
Guilt, Shame, and Redemption ThemeTracker
Guilt, Shame, and Redemption Quotes in There’s Someone Inside Your House
Makani knew better than to believe any of them outright. Rumors, even the true ones, never told a complete story. She avoided most of her classmates for that very reason. Self-preservation.
As usual, there was no word from back home. At least the messages of hate had long stopped. No one there was looking for her, and the only people who still cared about it—the incident, as she self-censored that night on the beach—were people like Jasmine. The only people who mattered. Makani would have never guessed that her friends’ permanent silence would be infinitely more painful than those weeks when thousands of uninformed, condescending, misogynistic strangers had spewed vitriol at her. It was.
It had been so long since Makani had felt any amount of genuine, unadulterated happiness that she’d forgotten that sometimes it could hurt as much as sadness. His declaration pierced through the muscle of her heart like a skillfully thrown knife. It was the kind of pain that made her feel alive.
Meanwhile, Makani pretended to be upset for the same reasons as her classmates. She pretended that the local news van, parked near the flag at half-mast, hadn’t broken her into a sweat. She pretended that she was cold when she put up the hood of her hoodie and angled her face away from the cameras. She pretended to belong.
The dry tassels reached for the open sky while the dead silks pointed down to the muddy earth. Slowly, ever so slowly, the wind strengthened and changed course, and the fields swayed as a single element, rippling outward in a current of mesmerizing waves. Something hidden inside Makani lifted its head and blossomed. The sensation was sublime. Makani often complained that she was drowning in corn, but she wasn’t gasping below the water. She was perched on the edge of the horizon.
Makani was grateful that she didn’t believe in ghosts; she only believed in the ghostlike quality of painful memories. And she was sure this house had plenty.
She had to believe that the mistakes of Ollie’s past didn’t guarantee that he would make even worse mistakes in his future. She had to believe that every mistake was still a choice. She had to believe that Ollie was a good person, because she had to believe it about herself.
He checked his favorite message board, but the usual torch-and-pitchfork crowd were still up in arms over this new company of video game developers that was run entirely by women. His insides shrank with a familiar shame as he quickly left the page. Not that long ago, he’d been one of them.
The summer clothes were her old clothes. In Hawaii, the warmest items she’d needed were jeans and a hoodie. Here, she’d had to ask her grandmother to buy her a coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and sweaters. They’d made a special trip to a mall in Omaha, and she’d selected everything in black. She couldn’t explain why except that when she wore it, she felt a bit more protected. A bit more hardened.
The serial killers in her imagination, the fictional centerpieces of innumerable movies and television shows, were colorful and fascinating and impossible to keep her eyes off of. But her eyes had always glossed over David. Who do you think did it? She’d looked past him, even when he’d asked her. She’d looked past him, even when he’d been sitting right in front of her.
Makani slept long hours and stirred aimlessly through her house. The barrage was endless. Immeasurable. Sometimes it hurt because everyone had the wrong idea about her, but usually it hurt because it felt like they had it right.
Darby stepped in front of Alex to block her from Makani’s view. “You’re right. But I know what it’s like to be angry—to think that everyone has it easier than you. Or that everyone is against you. And if you don’t deal with those feelings, they don’t go away on their own. They keep building and building until they force their way out.”
Ollie stopped. His expression was serious. He waited to speak until she stopped, too. “Everybody has at least one moment they deeply regret, but that one moment . . . it doesn’t define all of you.”
David didn’t know her, but Makani knew herself. And neither of them was a monster. She was a human who had made a terrible mistake. He was a human who had planned his terrible actions.
Running away from home didn’t change the fact that a person still had to live with themselves. Makani had learned this, though perhaps her mother never had. Change came from within, over a long period of time, and with a lot of help from people who loved you. Osborne wasn’t David’s problem. For Makani, Osborne had even been restorative. Being a psychopath was David’s problem. David was David’s problem.