Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis divorce, abuse, and a parent's illness. Yet, as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip like soap in a shower. Noah's got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well that Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.
The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero. So what's the absolute value of a friendship? Of love? Just how far apart are we, anyway?
Lily: "For three years, I'd been trying to hold on to Simon and pull him up against me. He was a bar of soap in the shower, though: slippery as hell, and one false move¯squeeze a little too tight¯and he's gone. And picking up a wet bar of soap in the shower is pretty difficult."
Noah: "Lily has these big brown eyes. It sounds corny, but they totally get me. They make my stomach and heart flip five times a piece. So I looked away quickly, because I have a tendency to kind of stare at her if I don't catch myself. It's been like that forever."
Simon: "I never thought much would change with Lily being my girlfriend. I mean, she and Noah were the only people I hung out with much anyway, so now I'd be kissing her and fondling her and she'd be kissing me and fondling me. Not much of a difference, really."