Summary and Analysis
Summer is passing too quickly for Will. He is happy with the development of his relationship with Ronnie, recognizing that their differences strengthen their relationship. Although she did not want him in court, Ronnie appreciates that he shows up with flowers afterwards. Her next court date is scheduled for August 28, three days after Will leaves for college.
Ronnie gets a part-time job at the aquarium. She and Will talk all the time, sometimes about serious things. Even though Ronnie's future is not all mapped out, as Will's is, Will feels Ronnie is more in charge of her life than he is.
Raccoons that were successful at infiltrating other nests along the coast convince Ronnie of the need to watch her nest. Will begins to see his mother's prejudice against Ronnie and to resent it, but he is unable to confront her about it. Instead, he stays away from his house. Marcus continues to make snide comments about Scott, and on the beach, Will again mentions attending Megan's wedding. He and Ronnie profess their love for one another and then run into Scott, Cassie, and Ashley. Scott wants Will to be available for pre-tournament scrimmages — the major beach volleyball tournament is at the end of the summer — but Will hesitates. The tournament is the day after Megan's wedding, and because Scott is counting on earning a college scholarship, he really wants to prepare. Ronnie convinces Will that he should attend Scott's volleyball boot camp. Using his sister's wedding as leverage, Will agrees to prepare with Scott if Ronnie agrees to attend the wedding.
They talk about how neither of them wants their romance to end after the summer. Will again encourages Ronnie to talk to Blaze, who he says is a good person. When they go to look at the stained-glass window, Ronnie mentions that it's for the church down the street that burnt down, and Will freezes. As Ronnie shares her dad's story, Will is thinking about what Scott has done and what he himself has and has not done. After Ronnie asks what he was thinking about, he asks for advice on protecting a friend. Ronnie encourages Will to do the right thing, no matter how hard.
After leaving her dad's workshop, they begin to give in to their physical desires, until Ronnie stops Will. The chapter ends with them telling each other that "you're a keeper."
Six weeks go by during this chapter, representing the romantic notion that time flies when you're having fun. Although Ronnie and Will are developing a strong relationship, summer is coming to an end, and the uneasiness about what effect the end of the summer will have on their relationship looms.
Will wants Ronnie to attend his sister's wedding, an important family event, which indicates a certain level of commitment. This chapter emphasizes that Will and Ronnie's relationship is based on friendship and honesty. Nevertheless, Will is unable to tell Ronnie the truth about the fire.
Will would like nothing more than to establish a sexual relationship with Ronnie, but he recognizes that this is not something she is ready for, so he respects her and controls himself.
This chapter provides important insights into Will's character. He struggles with his secret but isn't yet able to do what he thinks is right. This humanizes Will and also shows how similar he is to Ronnie. Suspense and romance are both building as the plot moves toward its climax.
At the start of Chapter 23, time jumps rather quickly. What was the point of glossing over the seemingly "best parts" of the summer?
To write more about the relationship at that point would have slowed the novel down and made the story feel repetitive. After Ronnie and Will realized they cared about each other, the reader can "fill in the blanks." Everyone knows what it means to spend time with and enjoy another person's company. At the same time, summer days tend to run together. Summer is typically remembered in more general terms. (I worked, spent time with my girlfriend or boyfriend, hung out with my friends, saw movies.) I think most people would agree with that, and that's what makes the story feel real.