All For This (Here and Now #3)What if you would never remember the day you made the most important decision of your life?
That’s what they’re telling me about the day of my accident—the day I put on Max’s ring and chose him over Nate. I’m counting on the wisdom behind a decision I don’t remember making.
Max is amazing—sexy, sweet, and kind. I was starting to believe happily-ever-after might be in my future after all. Then the unthinkable happened and my world imploded. If I’m going to make this work with Max, I need my missing memories, or at least answers from about those five days before my accident.
But what does my future hold if those answers aren’t anything like I imagined?
Reflecting on Meredith: The Character We Love to Hate
If you’ve read the first two books of the Here and Now series, you probably have some opinions about Meredith. You might have some choice words for her as well. I know I do. When I first started writing about her, I said, “Some people are just horrible.” But even horrible people have their reasons—valid or not.
When I first “met” Meredith while writing Wish I May (William and Cally’s book), I didn’t like her. At. All. When I realized what roll she played in Hanna’s books, I liked her even less. You see, in my mind, Meredith is very much like this girl I grew up with, let’s call her…Emily* (*name changed to protect the not-so-innocent). “Emily” was horrible to me, and I never understood why. She was wealthy and “popular” (a misnomer, in my opinion, as the “popular” group was always a rather small percentage of my school). I was from a struggling middle-class family and a bank geek. She was blonde and thin and wore the nicest clothes. I was mousy and overweight and wore my big sisters’ hand-me-downs. I never understood why she seemed to hate me so much.
I went to school with Emily from grade school through high school graduation, though we were in very few classes together since I was in the advanced or “academically talented” classes. But she was around just enough to make a mark on me. If I already had issues about my changing body, Emily made them worse by mocking me when we changed in the gym locker room. If I felt awkward and unwelcome in social settings, Emily made it worse by tripping me in the bleachers at the Homecoming game and laughing with her friends as I scrambled to my feet. Emily was a total bitch.
As a writer, of course, I look back and want to know what her motivation was. Was I just an easy target? She could be Queen Bee of her little group and show her power by making me feel small? Maybe. But I like to think people are more complex than that.
I’ll never forget the day we were meeting with advisors from a small private college. Emily desperately wanted to go to this college. I’d already been admitted and knew I’d be going under and academic scholarship. Emily hadn’t been admitted and she raised her hand to ask the advisors if they would be willing to take a writing sample instead of basing her entry on SAT scores and grades. I remember it so well. She said, “I can’t take tests, but I’m not stupid.” And then she turned and glared at me, and there was so much hatred in her eyes I’ve never been able to forget it. You see, I had no idea that she struggled with her grades or with taking tests. All I saw was a pretty, rich girl who was mean to me. But I guess it was common knowledge that I was quite smart. I was in all the advanced classes, praised for my work, and I’ve never had the problem with testing that some students have. I liked reading and writing and studying—something that may get you mocked in middle school but gets you money when college rolls around. Never would I have imagined that my success as a student had anything to do with how Emily treated me, but in that moment, I knew it did. She resented me for being able to do what she could not.
As I wrote All for This, I realized the same was true for Meredith. She isn’t “just a bitch.” She had her reasons. Does that make what she’s done right? Absolutely not. But it does remind me of Emily and that look in her eyes when she said, “I’m not stupid.” I don’t hate “Emily” anymore. I hope she’s doing well and that she is secure enough in herself these days that she doesn’t have to humiliate others to feel okay about her own weaknesses.
On a final note, I want to say this blog post is probably the most personal one I’ve ever written. I don’t like to write this much about myself—I prefer fiction, TVYM. But since this is for the final book in Hanna’s series, it seems fitting. I’ve gotten so many letters from readers who relate to Hanna and her self-esteem issues, and I’ll admit, I do too. Luckily for me, I know all about finding the guy (or guys in Hanna’s case), that teach you to feel comfortable in your own skin. My wish for you is that, if you see yourself in Hanna, you can learn for her mistakes. You are more beautiful than you know, and the people who bring you down aren’t “right” about you. They’re fighting their own demons. Smile and carry on. (Unless they trip you in the bleachers in front of your whole high school. Then you have my permission to start swinging…)