“It seemed to me suddenly that I should have known; an ocean away, but it seemed like I should have felt her there all along, like every now and then I should have looked up from my marbles or my textbook or my case report as if someone had called my name. She came all those thousands of miles, close enough to slip on my old name like a sister’s hand-me-down coat, she came pulled like a compass needle and she almost made it. She was only an hour’s drive away. and I should have known; I should have known, in time, to take that last step and find her.”“The rhythms of his voice washed over me, even and soothing as waves; I barely heard the words. “Time,” I think he said somewhere behind me, or maybe it was “thyme,” I’ve never been sure. “Time works so hard for us, if only we can let it.”
Cassie’s first week at Whitethorn House is something unexpectedly enjoyable. She soon learns why the housemates are not exactly popular at Trinity college, though in their own little world they are extremely close and behave like the type of idyllic family out of children’s-book series and old TV shows. The four of them had been eighteen when they met and, same as Cassie, none had been exactly close to their parents.
On Tuesday, Cassie calls Frank and asks him to do some research on Daniel’s great-uncle death. She tells Frank that even though it’s unlikely that his death had something to do with the housemates, she can’t help noticing how there is something weird about their attachment to the house. Frank has interesting news to share; the FBI guys got a hit on Lexie’s prints: The girl’s real name had been May-Ruth Thibodeaux, born in the US, reported missing a few years earlier.
Sam never asks Cassie about her life as Lexie and chooses to spend their time on the phone chattering about small, mundane things. She never tells him, but feels strangely disconnected to anything related to her former life. Only once Sam inquires about the housemates. He is interested to know if they never go to the local pub, and when Cassie answers that they usually hang out at home, he wonders if there could exist some old resentment towards Daniel’s family among the townsfolk of Glenskehy that might have resulted in Lexie’s murder. Cassie gets slightly defensive at the idea but finally agrees that it is worth a look. Later, Cassie is reading in bed when Abby pays her a visit. She straightforwardly asks her about the baby and Cassie can’t hide her surprise. She admits that the baby didn’t make it and Abby doesn’t prod any further. When she leaves, Cassie allows herself to really think of Lexie’s unborn child for the first time since she learned about it and wonders whether Lexie had been going to keep it.
On Sunday, Franks cheerfully congratulates Cassie on making it through the first week without getting caught. He wants to know what her gut tells her about the case, but Cassie’s feelings are way more complicated than she expects. She has not any intention to share with Frank (or Sam) anything about the diary or about her suspicion that she is being followed during her late-night walks and answers as honestly as she can: There is something they are missing that has yet to surface. Franks informs her then that there hadn’t been anything dodgy about the great-uncle after all.
As the second week starts, Cassie changes her strategy and starts pushing the housemates a little in order to find out what they are not sharing. She realizes, once she starts looking for them, how there are small cracks in the housemates’ seemingly perfect relationship. After a couple of weird incidents, Cassie discovers that the gang has an unspoken rule: They are not allowed to talk about their pasts.
On Wednesday, Cassie learns that May-Ruth Thibodeaux had been another of Lexie’s fake identities. Franks brings up his theory that maybe someone was after her and wasn’t going to give up. He also informs Cassie that if that is the case he understands if she is ready to leave the house. But Cassie already knows there is only one answer she can give: She is staying. Additionally, following the family feud lead Sam finds out that Whitethorn House has been getting vandalized over the last few years, though there has been only two minor incidents since Daniel and the rest moved in. Both Sam and Cassie agree that the person responsible for these acts fits with the profile of Lexie’s killer.
The cracks in the housemates’ relationship keep coming now that Cassie is looking for them. On Monday of Cassie’s third week at Whitethorn House, she finds the opportunity to spend some time alone with Justin. When she hints that she might want to get in touch with her family, Justin asks her to think about it: All of them have reasons why they agreed on the no pasts rule. Later, while she is giving Frank the daily report, Cassie recognizes the meaning of the cryptic page in Lexie’s date book. She had been pricing flights, probably getting ready to run again.1) Rereading the novel and knowing what happens later, is there something different in the way you approach the scene where Abby asks Cassie about Lexie’s baby? How do you feel about Cassie’s reaction?
2) The notion of hiding behind another persona in order to escape a painful past is a recurring theme in this book—most obviously with Cassie and Lexie but we also see it with the other inhabitants of Whitethorn House. How does the house help the housemates avoid their own histories? Is their choice as unhealthy as it seems?
3) Cassie’s former partner and best friend name’s keeps popping here and there in the less expected places. How do these allusions add to the story?
4) We see how Cassie slowly gets drawn into life at Whitethorn House and develops a certain protectiveness/fondness for Lexie. Do you think they share similarities, personality-wise? What are the differences?
5) The scene in the last chapter where Abby and Daniel discuss Lexie and the guys is pretty cryptic but also somehow enlightening. What did you guess the first time around? And now, what do you make of it?
Next week we'll cover chapters 11-14 :)