If you want to know what you missed in You Don’t Know Me, you can read Parts One, Two, and Three. Or you can just jump into the deep end and go from here. I should have said spoiler alert, but at this point who cares. However there are Trigger Alerts of Dubious Consent, Alcohol Abuse, Sexual Harassment, and a crap ton of sexist and homophobic microaggressions. Suffice it to say this is NSFW.
This is the last summary bit, I promise. I mean we only have a quarter of the book to go and the shit just hit the fan in a big way. Normally I would say that the last quarter is spent fixing the problems revealed on the way to the happy ending. But in You Don’t Know Me’s case, I would be completely wrong.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
With Alec, Rue, and Jenna all finding their own way back to the U.S. after their adventures in Ibiza, we’re left with Repentant Asshole Jack and Magically Reappearing Sean to follow around.
Sean once again proves he is too good for this world. By calling out Jack and how he’s been behaving.
Unfortunately this is literally all of the discussion that we get because the plane runs into turbulence. It turns out the turbulence is being caused by a large group of thunderstorms in the Caribbean (which most air traffic controllers try to steer around unless there is a more pressing reason not to) and everything goes to hell. Literally.
Since this is a storm, that means the water is going to be choppy which seriously impacts the ability of the pilot to land safely (my uncle pilots small craft and my cousin is a business jet pilot). Not to mention it feels like the only reason that Hopkins threw this in there was so that Jack would get a “get out of jail free” card and not have to be accountable for his actions and what he did to Rue.
The plane starts to go down and we get this.
Who here remembers the safety demonstration at the beginning of each plane flight? One of the things they stress is to not inflate the vest until you’re outside of the plane.
There’s a reason for that. It has to do with the laws of physics. Namely, that most people aren’t strong enough swimmers to be able to dive underwater while wearing a life vest and people get trapped in the sinking plane because they are floating not walking. I even saw a TV show on this that referenced Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 and the memories of survivors who heard the life vests inflate and then saw people dying because they couldn’t get out.
So now that Jack and Sean are likely dead. Let’s check in with our favorite musician who we’ve yet to see do anything that warrants his celebrity, Alec.
He arrives at LAX and is immediately greeted by people exclaiming that “Yay! You’re not dead but your friends are!”
Which leaves him going “Huh?”
He dashes off to a bar and gets the news.
Alec then takes a page from the Tommy Wiseau school of acting and falls apart.
And there you have the problem. This grief feels overacted. Forced. Like Faleena has never actually lost someone she cared about and is going through the motions of grief.
We flip to Rue who has heard the news and decided that the best thing to do is to go to Jack and Sean’s house and try to comfort their grieving mother. Remember, this is the same woman whose husband cheated on her, and Rue is a living reminder of that infidelity and betrayal. But sure, let’s go comfort Mrs. Stone. That’s a great idea.
Rue goes on and on in her head about how much she loves her brothers. Despite only knowing them a week. And one of the brothers has done his level best to break her and succeeded. Then we get this.
My parents went from Met to Engaged in literally 3 weeks. So I know it’s possible. But Rue hasn’t had the same kind of “get to know you” experiences. She’s had parties, and more parties, and that’s about it. The real problem is that the author didn’t show the bonding between any of her characters. Instead, she meandered from external plot device to external plot device without any character development. The number of times I can count Alec and Rue actually talking is non-existent. They don’t talk. They lust after each other.
Right now I am firmly on the mother’s side.
Alec shows up about a minute later and lets himself and Rue in.
When he appears, the mother reappears - drugged out - and apologizes to Rue.
We then get some of the backstory of Rue’s father and mother.
Apparently the mother left and despite telling Rue’s dad that she never wanted to see him, he still loved her. He even wrote a note to his wife telling her that he never loved her and that Rue’s mom was his soulmate. The man is a piece of work.
Not to mention, I have concerns about just how much Rue’s mom wanted the affair and how much was coercion. Because let’s be honest, it’s a power imbalance.
After this, we travel back in time to see what happened when the plane crashed. At this point, I am firmly convinced that Jack and Sean died despite what the author claims, and this is just a huge fantasy spun by Rue as part of the bargaining phase of grief. I mean, it makes as much sense as anything else.
The plane lands and Jack and Sean and the pilots manage to get out despite the rising water.
Once out of the plane they have to swim against the waves to get to the raft with an injured co-pilot.
At this point, I’m just chanting “Nope” so much that my dogs got concerned about my sanity and started bringing me toys in the effort to break me out of my fugue-state.
I have good dogs.
Of course Jack and Sean survive to reach the raft…
How do I know they’re near Cuba? It becomes a plot point later. But you want to know what else is near Cuba? The Gulf Stream.
Look at those water temps… Hmmm It’s almost like it’s warm in the Caribbean or something.
This water is definitely warmer than ANYTHING along the California coast. (LA average water temps in November are in the low 60s. The Florida Keys average water temperatures are in the upper 70s to low 80s during the same time.)
Sorry, my Earth Science degree is screaming. I’ll stop.
While they’re drifting they have a heart to heart and Sean reveals he’s gay.
Seriously, Jack is one of the most horrible people I’ve ever encountered that was supposed to be a redeemable character. There have been villains - Loki, Vegeta, Draco Malfoy, Darth Vader, Spike - who have had better redemption arcs and been better people than Jack.
Then this happens.
I actually went back and counted; from the time traveling reboot it literally was 8 pages from the start of that chapter with the actual plane crash and them being rescued. They were in the water for only a few hours or at least that’s what it feels like. The author is not good with time.
We return to Rue and Alec in California and get this…
Yep, the President calls to tell them Jack and Sean are safe.
There’s some very painful dialogue and then Mrs. Stone wanders off.
And one of Faleena Hopkins’ issues rears its head…
From here on, I imagined the entire scene was being listened to by Obama. It wasn’t pretty.
We start in on a “I am so happy my best friends are alive I must sex you up!” which I will spare you.
Then Alec and Rue have a heart to heart and they decide that they can only be friends. Because she loves her brothers and she wants to make it work with them. I can get loving Sean. Sean is awesome. Jack can go rot. Have I mentioned I hate Jack?
Next we have a party to celebrate the return of Jack and Sean, and my love of Sean wanes while my hatred of Jack and Alec rises. Jack because he’s a horrible human being. Alec because he spends his time moping about how wants Rue but can’t have her.
Sean wanders away and spends the next few minutes telling everyone he talks to that he‘s gay. Which I wouldn’t have a an issue with if this wasn’t billed as a straight romance. Sean rejoins the group and we get the following “Jack is terrible” things.
Jack stops with his harassment of Jenna and has a talk with Rue. Revealing that he too tried to commit suicide.
You know. I hear counseling is a thing. Maybe you all should look into that.
Anyway after that, he gives permission for Alec to date Rue.
Because men giving permission for people to date their female relatives is so 2015… or 1915… or 1815. One of those. This is also sexist. I know there’s a bro code, but frankly Jack has been such an ass and literally he’s known Rue for like a week, I’m skeptical.
Alec is relieved and runs off to find Rue. But she’s trying to stick to her vow of only friends.
So when she tells him no twice, he does this.
This is what Faleena Hopkins considers sexy: abuse. Naturally Rue is turned on and they run off to have sex.
Horribly horribly written sex.
Thankfully the scene is short. And by I short I mean WTF short.
The chapter ends with Alec and Rue making a promise to try to make things work. And if the story had ended there, it could kind of squeak into romance. But it doesn’t.
Instead the story ends with Rue, Jack, and Sean going on a talk show and talking about their life.
And here’s the final line.
Honestly, Sean’s story arc was the most developed and compelling. But when a secondary character’s plot takes over the core plot of your romantic leads, there is something wrong.
Unfortunately, I am literally running out of room so I’ll sum up in another post where I talk about the most salient problems.