This section contains 1,430 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
In Chapter 21, Quang-ha is angry because another person has been added to their already crowded living conditions. He is embarrassed by the robot underwear his mother bought for him on sale. He’s angry everything he owns smells like nail polish. He decides he won’t feel sorry for Willow because she’s only adding to his discomfort.
The next morning, Willow refuses to go to school. Pattie is supposed to call the Department of Children’s Services that day and have a file set up for Willow. She assumes family will come for the girl. She hopes they will take care of her.
In Chapter 22, Willow hopes she is dreaming when she wakes up in the garage. She analyzes the odds of being given up at birth then having another set of parents die in a accident 147 months and 7 days later. She decides the likelihood of it happening is a slim possibility. She has decided she isn’t ever going back to school. The only person she’ll miss is the nurse, Judi, who would talk to her about germ eradication.
She spends the day in Pattie’s salon. When Pattie tells Willow she has a caseworker, Willow asks for a pen and piece of paper. A woman comes in about an hour later and talks to Pattie. Willow knows they are talking about her, but she doesn’t pay attention. Soon the lady walks over to Willow and introduces herself. Willow hands her the piece of paper. On the sheet she has written that her family had no relatives or friends who would be suitable to take care of her. She instructs Ito’s Garden Services to be contacted to take care of her garden and has written that she does not want to return to her home. She does, however, want her computer, printer and medical files. Willow asks to be allowed to stay with the Nguyen family.
Willow refuses to go with the woman, ignoring her while she talks and conjugating Latin verbs instead. When Mrs. Cole suggests she will use force on Willow if necessary, Willow goes. Saying goodbye to Pattie is the hardest goodbye she’s ever said even though she didn’t even know her a day before.
In Chapter 23, in the car on the way to Jamison Children’s Center Willow believes her pulse rate is entering a dangerous level. Inside the building she notices the doors lock when they close and there are surveillance cameras everywhere. She finds it hard to breathe so she sits on a couch. On a coffee table next to the couch she sees a copy of the newspaper. It displays a picture of her parents’ car accident showing the mangled, burned truck. She passes out, hitting her head on the elephant shaped coffee table. She is bleeding and hears someone say she needs stitches.
Willow is taken to Mercy Hospital to get nine stitches. She tells Mrs. Cole she’s going to the bathroom but instead borrows a cell phone from another patient, calls the taxi company and requests Jairo Hernandez to come and pick her up.
In Chapter 24, Jairo worries that someone has done something to hurt Willow when he picks her up near the hospital. He’s had the mole removed from his neck, which the doctor said didn’t look good, so he’s decided she’s some sort of mystic. He notices Willow pull a hospital band from her wrist. After she gets out of the cab at the library, he pulls the band out of the trash. He decides the numbers on it are the ones he will play in the lottery the rest of his life.
When Willow wakes the following morning in the garage with the Nguyen family, she hopes she is dreaming. This denial is another step in Willow’s grieving process. She’s hoping her parents really aren’t dead, she just dreamed the whole thing. In a coincidence that would be devastating even to most adults, Willow sees a picture of her parents’ mangled vehicle in the daily newspaper that someone has left on a coffee table in the office at Jamison Children’s Center. She sees the paper at a time she’s already in panic mode because she’s been forced to leave Pattie, the one person who has been able to comfort her since the accident. It is no wonder that Willow passes out when she sees the graphic picture.
Seeking comfort and knowing she won’t get it at Jamison, Willow runs away from the hospital to which they take her to get stitches. She calls Jairo, the one person she knows she can trust to come get her, and asks to be taken to the library, a place that she knows will comfort her.
Notice in this section of the novel that Pattie has already begun to care for Willow. Because she grew up with no parents, she knows what Willow will face. Not knowing Willow’s whole story she believes the girl must have family who will come for her. Pattie hopes whomever Willow winds up living with will take good care of her.
Meanwhile, Jairo is even more convinced that Willow is some sort of mystic as he had the mole that she pointed out to him removed the same morning he’d made the doctor’s appointment to have it checked out. Now, as he retrieves her hospital bracelet from the trash in the back of the taxi, he decides her hospital identification number is also good luck and he should play that number in the lottery.
The letter that Willow gives to her new caseworker is of extreme interest because of the information that can be learned about Willow from it. This letter shows the depth of Willow’s intelligence as well as the grasp that she has on her situation despite the grief she is feeling. She lines out her situation for the caseworker saying that she has no close relatives or friends that can take her in. She requests to be allowed to stay with the Nguyens. At this point, Mai and Pattie have taken charge of Willow. Just having someone to take charge can be comforting in the situation that Willow faces.
Willow also asks for some unusual things, considering that she is only 12. She asks for a forensic autopsy to be done on both her mother and father, even though she knows she isn’t ready to look at it at that time. She also asks that the pictures of them be put into storage. It seems that Willow doesn’t want to, or isn’t ready to, face anything that will remind her of her parents as she also asks not to have to return to the house where she grew up. She appoints and guardian for her garden, and asks for some of her things, but makes it clear she doesn’t want to go back there.
With her deep study of medical conditions, Willow asks she be given medication for anxiety and suggests she may later need something for depression. Few adults would be collected enough at this point in the loss of both their parents to even realize they needed medication to help them through the grieving process, yet here, Willow is lining out very clearly what she knows she made need in order to come to terms with what has happened.
Willow also requests to be allowed to stay with the Nguyen family. In fact she phrases her desire more as a statement than a request. Again, it is clear she has thought things through as she points out that she hopes the Nguyens will be reimbursed for the things they will need to take care of her.
Discussion Question 1
Consider how devastating it would be not only to be told your parents had been killed in a car crash, but then to unexpectedly see the picture of this crash in the newspaper. How might you have responded? Is Willow’s reaction one that might be expected?
Discussion Question 2
Why do you think Willow panics so severely when she is taken into Jamison? Why is it that she believes she doesn’t belong there?
Discussion Question 3
Consider Willow’s written request to her new caseworker. What stands out in this request? Do you think her appeal to be allowed to stay with the Nguyens will be honored?
definitive, eradication, formally, forensic, incurred, clarity, imperceptible, syncope, transient, glabella, disfigurement, automated
This section contains 1,430 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)