After Chapter 46 – As if.

Previously: Hardin and Tessa had a fight about family dinner.

Samantha: Tessa notices that Hardin seems tense for some reason as they drive to the family dinner he very much did not want to attend. Weird, that. The man with serious anger issues is tense about being manipulated into an event he didn’t want to go to?

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Marines: My favorite part is that she first describes the drive as “nice” before telling us that Hardin is so tense, he’s strangling the steering wheel. 

“Nice.”

Samantha: When they get to the house Tessa continues the unjustified shock train by being surprised when Hardin gets out of the car and announces he’s coming to dinner too. I know the last she heard he was only dropping her off, but there was no way he wasn’t coming to this dinner, so fake tension is fake.

Mari: 1- It’s his house and his family, Tessa. 2- As if Todd would have pages where Hardin wasn’t around. AS IF. 

Samantha: He hates doorbells or something so they walk right on in.

Hardin’s dad goes to hug his son but Hardin is having none of that. He asks Tessa to call him Ken and when will I be old enough that calling my friends/SO’s parents by their first names won’t wig me out? They head into the living room, where Tessa sits next to Landon because Hardin has already disappeared. Good, stay gone the whole chapter, Hardin! (M: AS. IF.)

Landon comments on Tessa and Hardin giving their “friendship” another try. He doesn’t use air quotes but they are just very needed. He also laughs because Ken thinks they’re dating and why wouldn’t you correct him, Landon? He says he’s waiting for Hardin to do it which seems unnecessary and mean. Landon is not as nice as he thinks he is.

Landon’s mom comes in and somehow she’s wearing a turquoise dress that’s similar to Tessa’s maroon dress. (M: Awkward! Matching your quasi-boyfriend’s quasi-stepmom.) She greets Tessa and then rushes off back to the kitchen. There’s probably a sexist joke in here somewhere that I don’t know how to make. Tessa and Landon talk about an essay they have to write when Hardin strolls back into the scene to be rude and make fun of them. Landon laughs him off though, so Tessa thinks their fistfight was good for them.

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I’m that girl making the wtf face in the background of whatever this gif is from.

Mari: THE FIGHT WAS GOOD FOR THEM. A little throwaway line that really reveals Todd’s headspace and comfort with justifying physical violence WEE. 

Samantha: They head in for dinner and the table is laid very nicely and Tessa thinks that Hardin had better behave or she’ll kill him. Few things:

  1. It’s a shitty sign if you see a nicely set table and worry that your love interest is going to destroy it.
  2. Yes, Hardin should definitely not be violent or awful here because as far as we know, Landon’s mom has done nothing but have her dishes broken by the stepson from hell so he shouldn’t have come if he can’t not be a dick but
  3. Tessa you manipulated him into coming (“ooooh maybe I’ll bring Zed if you don’t come”) so you don’t have much of any room to judge his behavior here I think.

They sit down together and Tessa can’t look at Karen kissing Ken’s cheek ’cause the non-abuse is too painful. She fills her plate with food and Hardin laughs at her before saying, “Hungry girls are the best.” Huh? What does this mean? I think Todd is going for the “I like a girl who doesn’t eat salad” trope, which is annoying, but this is such a strange way to phrase it. Does Hardin like to starve his girlfriends so that they are perpetually hungry?

Mari: BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEST! Girls who have just eaten and are now full? WORST. Gimme a before lunch girl not an after lunch girl! I don’t know what I’m saying anymore! 

Samantha: I love you.

They chit chat about school and Hardin gets angry face when Karen mentions that he used to be in Literary Club. Tessa changes the subject and Hardin’s eyes “soften” to thank her and ewwww his eyes are probably the consistency of applesauce now. Karen mentions that Ken is the Chancellor of the University and Tessa drops her fork and gasps because she had No! Idea! They are surprised that Hardin never mentioned it and Hardin keeps calm and continues the conversation. I’m just kidding, he has a completely inane meltdown over nothing. He jumps up and starts yelling about not needing to use Ken’s position, which was not what anyone was suggesting, and storms away from the table.

Mari: Wow, what a self-important baby. LITERALLY NO ONE CARES, HARDIN. HANDLE YOUR EMOTIONS BETTER. Also, Landon didn’t tell her either? Which is also weird, but you don’t see him stomping off and crying. 

Samantha: Karen looks like she might cry, probably because she thought her dishes were about to be murdered again.

Tessa apologizes, and Ken is me telling her not to apologize for him, and goes off to find Hardin. Merciful chapter end.

 

Next time on After: Will Hardin calm down?? in Chapter 47. 

 

Samantha (all posts)

I'm a 25 year old graduated English major who now works in a library and a bookstore in order to really drive that point home. I can often be found singing too loudly (poorly) in the car or spending some time (hours) on Tumblr. I am a lover of Harry Potter, the Spice Girls, and too many other things.





Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.





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  • Sarah

    Karen. Honey. Find a local moving company that will help abuse victims for cheap/free, schedule a date with them and have the cop present. Get a restraining order against Hardin and GET. OUT.

    This is not okay. It’s NOT. OKAY. I just…how did this get to the point of being published without anyone asking the author ‘what is the matter with you?’ I’m so frustrated with this crap being pushed as romance I could almost cry.

  • Mae

    “She greets Tessa and then rushes off back to the kitchen. There’s probably a sexist joke in here somewhere that I don’t know how to make.”
    Very-Predictable-Spoiler alert – Karen only really exists in the kitchen or dining room and is a complete cipher, so Esme basically. She’s some stereotype from a 1950’s movie and is there only to show how horrible Tessa’s mom is. Naturally, Tessa adores her. She knows her place, after all.

    “Hungry girls are the best.” Huh? What does this mean?”
    I took it as a 50 Shades reference when they were constantly asking each other, “are you hungry?” “yes, but not for food” while trying too hard to be sexy. Since so much else in this book is ripped from ELJ, I just assume everything is. But yes, I do think part of it is also a reference to ‘I like girls who eat manly food, not salads’ because thin girls are the worst in Todd’s eyes.

    • The Bad Slayer

      Don’t forget her garden. Also a big part of her identity.

    • Alicia

      Tessa’s mom is a “bitch” because she is the only character who’s real with Tessa, she doesn’t sugarcoat everything like Karen does. Tessa thinks that anyone who doesn’t 100% have her back (not including Hardin) isn’t her friend. Also, Karen cries a LOT. That part also bothered me about her. I mean, of course having an asshole step-son is reason to cry, but she cries at little stupid things, like while talking to Tessa about how much Tessa has ~changed!~ Hardin, etc. It’s dumb.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed that so much of this book is ripped from 50 Shades. There’s literally the same scenes in some places. Some of the same, or similar things are said and done.

      • Mae

        Yep. Basically, anyone who tells Tessa that the world doesn’t owe her anything so she better buckle up and build a life for herself is just one big meanie pants. THEN we get told how mature Tessa is. Okay, book.

        I had forgotten how much Karen cries. It gave me the feeling that she hates having to put up with Hardin and his angry violent outbursts but feels she can’t speak up for herself so she just bursts into tears from holding it in so long.

        • Alicia

          Hardin can literally call Tessa names and be mean to her but she still loves him, but if anyone besides him tries to cross her, they are big meanies. Someone is questioning whether she should be with Hardin or not because he’s dangerous? Omg that person is horrible for not being on her side or happy for her, plus she will defend Hardin if anyone tries to insult or question his mean actions. We always get told how mature Tessa is, but it’s never shown through her actions or thoughts. She may have a few decent moments but then quickly ruins them because she may say these things and act on them for a short time before going straight back to Hardin for more sexytimes. It’s like this through the whole series. Books like this seem to be becoming the literary norm.

          I could agree with you on that. Hardin’s one of those people that no one can argue with, because he’s blaming everyone else for his actions, so Karen doesn’t want to deal with or punish him because she thinks he will end up hating her, more than he already does, I guess. She’s basically “fml” and drinking and crying in the corner all day.

      • The Bad Slayer

        I thought it was common knowledge. Like, this rips off 50 and 50 rips off Twilight. It’s a big rip off circle jerk.

        • Alicia

          I suppose it’s common knowledge to those of us who hate these books. But the fans insist that After is totally different from 50 Shades, 50 Shades is totally different from Twilight, etc. I’ve seen this defense many times and it makes me headdesk.

  • Joy

    This would be so much better as a psychological horror book.

    • The Bad Slayer

      It isn’t?

  • The inconsistency in Todd’s own value system – “Ew skinny girls and ew makeup so I’m a good girl which makes it okay that I cheat on my boyfriend” – just adds to the evidence that she’s not actually a human but a robot writing system programmed by, and perpetually confused by, societal standards and expectations for women. “These parameters cannot coexist” she tells her creators, “You want her to be virginal but effortlessly sexy, to not care what boys think but still cater to their every whim.” “What do you mean such a girl can’t exist?! Sure she can! Just write it, it’ll be fine,” replies society. And here we are.

    • The Bad Slayer

      This is the most logical thing I’ve heard on the subject. It would also go a long way to clearing some things up.

  • Alicia

    Wow, I am totally shocked that Hardin seems tense while driving Tessa to an event that he refused to attend with her because he has bad feelings towards his father. I cannot believe that such a turn of events happened and – oh, who am I kidding, I can’t even fake being surprised at anything that goes on in this “book”. And to Tessa, any drive where they are not arguing is considered “nice”.

    And now she’s shocked once again when he announces that he is coming with her. Wow, Hardin has changed so much that he’ll even go to a family dinner with Tessa even though he hates his family. Todd included Hardin not wanting to go to the dinner as more fake tension, when we all knew he would be there anyway.

    Lol, I’ve been with my fiance two years, and I still call his mom “his mom”. He does the same with my parents. I’d feel weird calling her by her first name. He sometimes calls my parents by their names but just when we’re talking about them, usually not to their face.

    Hardin: comes to family dinner with Tessa, then disappears. Probably into his room to avoid his dad for as long as he can. I’m surprised he didn’t demand that Tessa come with him. Anyway, Landon not telling Ken that Hardin and Tessa are not dating was kind of rude of him, to just let Ken assume that his abusive son has a girlfriend. Landon laughs off Hardin’s teasing and that makes Tessa think their fistfight was good for them?? HOW IS THIS NOT CONDONING VIOLENCE, MS. TODD??? ANSWER ME THAT. Tessa’s scared of her drunk and violent dad but Hardin having a fistfight with her best friend is okay because it helped them work shit out. WHAT THE HELL.

    Tessa’s worried about Hardin acting out and ruining a nicely set dinner, I am swooning. I love it when I don’t know whether a guy is going to be an asshole or behave himself. It’s such a mystery and makes him seem sexy somehow. Right? -wink wink- The fact that Tessa can’t look when Karen kisses Ken’s cheek because the non-abuse is so painful…wow. Has she forgotten that she was in a decent relationship? And she let it all go.

    “Hungry girls are the best”. So maybe he has a fetish for those girls who purposely eat to get to be a super unhealthy weight? That’s all I can figure, since those girls eat all the time. It also could be a 50 Shades reference because of Christian always ordering Ana to eat. I also don’t understand why Hardin gets annoyed that Karen mentions she was in a literary club. And now Hardin’s freaking out that he thinks his father’s position as chancellor is going to somehow make Tessa think differently of him? Idk why he is so upset by this big reveal.

    I’ve noticed that Karen cries a LOT. Later, you’ll see it, too. I can understand her being upset at Hardin’s outburst, and probably scared for the life of her dishes, but in the future she cries over stupid things. It’s like Todd thinks girls cry over everything.

  • Karen

    TFW a terrible author uses your name for a terrible character* in a terrible book.
    (*Judging by the other comments.)

    I guess I should just be grateful I’m not the “heroine”.

    • Janine

      God, you don’t know how grateful I am that my name isn’t that common