Chapter Nine: Atlas – Chapter Eleven: Atlas 

Chapter Nine: Atlas 

At the restaurant, Theo harasses Atlas for a picture of Lily, which he doesn’t have. Atlas says that Lily’s ex hates him and reveals to Brad that the man Atlas fought at his restaurant in the past was Ryle. While they’re talking, Lily calls Atlas on FaceTime, Theo tries to see her before Atlas pushes him out of his office. Atlas asks Lily how her mother is. Lily says she’s happy, in a relationship and in Boston, and asks about Atlas’s uncle. Atlas admits that there was no uncle and that he lied to Lily as a teenager. He realized he couldn’t stay living in the abandoned house behind her house and didn’t want Lily to worry that he was moving to Boston alone. Lily asks who his people are, checking to make sure that Atlas isn’t alone now, that he has a community. Lily accidentally flashes Atlas as she is breastfeeding Lily, and he thanks her for it. Before they hang up, Atlas takes a screenshot to show Theo what Lily looks like. Lily hears the sound the screenshot makes and calls him out on it. Atlas is embarrassed. When Atlas shows Lily to Theo, he says he understands why Atlas gets so tongue-tied around her. 

Chapter Ten: Lily 

Allysa watches Emerson so that Lily can go on a date with Atlas. At first, Lily doesn’t tell Allysa who she’s going out with, but Allysa guesses. Lily asks her not to tell her brother. Allysa says that Lily seems excited and that Allysa has missed seeing Lily excited about someone. Lily talks about how tired she is because Emerson was up the previous night with a fever but that she doesn’t want to miss the date. 

Chapter Eleven: Atlas 

Atlas wants the day to go faster because he’s excited for his date with Lily but anxious because he smells like garlic. Darin notices that he’s dressed up and is happy when he learns that he’s going out with Lily, who he met once and liked. 

When Atlas picks Lily up for their date, it’s clear Lily is tired, but she insists on pushing through saying she’ll sleep when she’s dead. Lily presents Atlas with one of her high school journals as a present. Atlas wishes that he wasn’t driving because he wants to look at Lily. Lily asks him how he got away on the weekend, and he says that he hired reliable people. They talk about reviews, and Lily is surprised to learn that Atlas reads all his restaurants’ reviews and the reviews of her flower shop. She says she can’t look at reviews. She nervously asks how hers are, and he tells her that everyone loves her flowers. 

During Atlas’s emergency call from the restaurant, Lily falls asleep. Atlas doesn’t have the heart to wake her up, seeing how badly she needs to sleep, so he begins to read her teenage journal about him. He reads Lily’s detailed account of their first kiss. It blows him away. He doesn’t remember being as confident as he is in Lily’s description of the night. Her journal makes him want to share his story with Lily, so he writes something on his phone to her.  

Lily wakes up, mortified that she fell asleep during their first date. Atlas says that he had her journal to keep him company and that he still thinks it was the best date he’s ever had. 


This section explores how considerate Atlas is, contrasting with Ryle’s continued pattern of selfish, abusive behavior. Both in the past and in the present, Atlas has gone out of his way to prioritize Lily’s comfort and well-being. For example, when they were teenagers, Atlas left Lily and moved to Boston on his own to spare her the pain and the potential danger his presence posed for her. Though the move posed risk to Atlas and put him in a big city entirely alone and though it separated him from Lily, the move was an act of love. Similarly, though Atlas has been looking forward to his date with Lily for years, he can’t bear to wake her up when she falls asleep, suggesting that once again he prioritizes her well-being over his own desires. What’s more, he enjoys pleasing Lily and doing what’s best for her. This illustrates that Atlas is a foil to Ryle, and that, in some ways, Atlas is Lily’s reward after her previous suffering and hard-won lessons. 


In gifting the journals from her past, Lily shares herself with Atlas, and it’s this act of love that helps them bridge the gap between their past and their present. While Ryle read the journals with jealousy and rage, Atlas is able to meet the story of Lily’s experience with him with wonder and joy. There is so much from their past that was hidden from both Lily and Atlas, so many questions each of them has been wanting answered for years. By sharing her story with him and opening up her past self to him, Lily surprises, seduces, and touches Atlas. What’s more, Atlas follows in suit, wanting to share the story of his own past with Lily. It’s through this correspondence through time that Lily and Atlas are able to catch each other up, not just on the events of their lives, but the emotional imprint their relationship has left on each of them for many years. 


The embarrassment that both Lily and Atlas feel in the early part of their courtship harkens back to the embarrassment of their time together as teenagers. This suggest that their teenage selves are still a part of their adult relationship, which reinforces the broader implications that the past influences our present, something that is prevalent in both titles in this duology. For example, in trying to take a quick picture of Lily to show the 12-year-old Theo, Atlas is behaving a bit like a kid himself, and when he gets caught, he’s filled with a touching embarrassment. His friendship with Theo also suggests that, when it comes to Lily, some parts of Atlas are still a shy, wonderstruck teenager. Similarly, Lily experiences intense mortification when she realizes she slept through her date with Atlas. This harkens back to the many nights that they slept together as teenagers, and her embarrassment is reminiscent of the teenager she was, shy and hopeful, awestruck in her first love. Their feelings of embarrassment are a tender part of their courtship and illustrate the fact that in some ways, when they are together, Atlas and Lily are still teenagers.