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Paper Towns

Paper Towns Summary


Here you will find a Paper Towns summary (John Green's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Paper Towns Summary Overview

The tale commences a near decade prior to the main events, when childhood friends, Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman, encounter a corpse in their local park. This shared experience cements an ambiguous yet enduring, connection between the pair. As time progresses, we find them in suburban Orlando in their senior year of high school. Margo, now a popular figure, recruits Quentin, from whom she's been distant since their childhood encounter, on a clandestine mission of revenge against her disloyal friends. This nocturnal escapade involves various transgressions including unauthorized entries into homes and vehicles, culminating in a trespass into Sea World. Following their daredevil night, Margo vanishes, leaving behind a trail of enigmatic hints for Quentin to decipher and locate her. Quentin, obsessed with the mystery, enlists the aid of his friends Ben, Radar, and Margo’s acquaintance Lacey, as he attempts to make sense of the riddles, the most perplexing being annotations in Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The investigation leads the team to an abandoned mall, where Margo has evidently been hiding. Maps and other indications suggest that she has been planning her stay there. Quentin starts exploring Margo's fascination with 'paper towns', unfinished suburban developments, in the hope of finding her hidden in one of them. The quest for Margo leads to a significant shift in Quentin's social standing, as he earns newfound respect amongst his high school peers. His dedication to the search exceeds that of his friends, as they have their own preoccupations. Quentin's relentless pursuit finally pays off on the day of their graduation when he discovers an online clue indicating that Margo is in Agloe, New York. The friends embark on a frantic road trip to Agloe, which, despite the tension, brings them closer. Upon reaching Agloe, they find Margo aloof and unenthused by their arrival. After a heated exchange, Quentin's friends leave, but he stays behind to converse with Margo. Their conversation brings closure, with Margo articulating her reasons for severing connections with her past. They share a moment of intimacy before parting ways, promising to stay in contact but understanding their paths lie in different directions.


Quentin is a resident of Jefferson Park, a suburb of Orlando, Florida. He harbors a longstanding crush on his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. At the age of nine, during a playdate in the park, they stumble upon a dead man, bloody and hunched against a tree. Quentin's immediate reaction is fear, but Margo is intrigued and inspects the corpse. Quentin's parents contact the authorities. The following day, Margo appears at Quentin's window, sharing the results of her neighborhood sleuthing about the deceased man. His name was Robert Joyner, a divorcee who had killed himself. Margo hypothesizes that his suicide might have been due to "all the strings inside of him" snapping.

part 1 chapter 1

Quentin usually spends his mornings before school with his band friends, even though he isn't in the band himself. On one such morning, he gets a lift from his mom and they talk about the upcoming prom. Quentin isn't bothered about the event, unlike his best friend Ben who's trying to find a "honeybunny" date. Another of their friends, Radar, already has his date sorted. Quentin's thoughts wander to Margo Roth Spiegelman, his adventurous classmate, and her boyfriend, Jase. At school, Radar is found working on Omnictionary, a website he edits constantly. A classmate, Chuck Parson, inquires about Margo and Jase but Quentin admits ignorance. During lunch, Angela, Radar's girlfriend, questions why she's never been to Radar's place. Radar blames it on his parents' unique collection of black Santas. Quentin advises him to be honest with Angela about the peculiar collection. After the school day ends, Quentin enjoys a meal with his parents and spends time chatting online with his friends. Unexpectedly, Margo appears outside his bedroom window, the first time since they were just nine.

part 1 chapter 2

Margo, donned in a black outfit and face paint, requests Quentin's assistance for the night, needing him for eleven tasks, five of which require a getaway driver. She assures him no illegal activities will be involved, though Quentin is initially reluctant. During her persuasion, Margo's father screams at her to get inside, prompting her to exit through Quentin's window. However, she reassures Quentin she'll return shortly. Quentin, having had a change of heart, retrieves his mom's minivan keys, agreeing to help. Upon her return, Margo discloses their first destination is the supermarket and reassures Quentin that he's about to experience the best night of his life.

part 1 chapter 3

Quentin receives a peculiar shopping list from Margo, characterized by her unique habit of randomly capitalizing words mid-sentence. The list is laden with strange items such as three whole catfish and blue spray paint. After shopping, the pair visits Wal-Mart, where they pick up The Club, a device used to secure a car's steering wheel. Quentin queries Margo about the need for The Club, but she deftly evades the question, lamenting the dullness of future planning. A tinge of flirtation colors their interaction.

part 1 chapter 4

Late at night, Margo confides in Quentin that Jase has cheated on her with her best friend, Becca, and she's plotting revenge. They first visit Jase’s car, parked near Becca’s place. Margo, knowing Jase's habit of not locking his car, gets in and fits The Club to his steering wheel. As they head to Becca’s, Margo unveils the next phases of her plan which Quentin finds ingenious, though the details are not shared. Upon arrival, Margo and Quentin notice a lit basement window. Using binoculars and a camera, they catch a glimpse of Becca and Jase in the act. Quentin phones Becca’s father, alerting him to the illicit activity in his basement. This prompts Jase to flee, half-dressed, and Quentin captures the moment with a photo. Margo makes a less than flattering comparison about the visible part of Jase's anatomy. Infiltrating Becca’s room, they collect Jase's discarded clothes. Margo crafts a note for Quentin to pen on a wrapped catfish which reads: “A message from Margo Roth Spiegelman: Your friendship with her – it sleeps with the fishes.” They hide the fish in Becca’s closet and Margo spray paints an 'M' on Becca’s wall. Leaving the house, they are chased by Becca’s father wielding a shotgun but manage to escape in the van. Quentin tosses Jase his shirt, which he'd spotted nearby. Margo begins to yell—not out of anger for Quentin's actions—but sorrow, as her theory of Jase's infidelity is confirmed. Quentin is overwhelmed with a mix of fear and thrill as he tries to calm down. Meanwhile, Margo nonchalantly paints her nails.

part 1 chapter 5

Margo and Quentin make amends with Karin by leaving her a bouquet and a note of apology. Margo had lost her temper with Karin after learning about Jase, thus, she feels the need to apologize. Their next stop is Jase's house, a large, ostentatious McMansion. Margo inscribes a message on a fish, “MS’s love For you: it Sleeps With the Fishes.” The house has a sophisticated security system that activates once Margo steps onto the property. Unfazed, she tosses the fish through a window, breaking the glass, spray-paints an 'M' and dashes back to the car. Quentin accelerates and they manage to get away. Their following destination is Lacey Pemberton’s residence. Margo accuses Lacey of body shaming, not sharing about Jase and Becca's relationship and overall, being an awful friend. The final catfish bears the message “your Friendship with ms Sleeps with The fishes” and is hidden under Lacey’s car’s backseat. Quentin is asked by Margo to mark Becca’s car with an 'M'. A moment of connection happens when they touch the tips of their paint-stained fingers.

part 1 chapter 6

Margo brings Quentin into the heart of Orlando, aiming for the SunTrust building's peak. Gus, the security guard who is a pal of Margo's, grants them entry. They ascend to a conference room on the 25th floor, casting their gaze over the city's nighttime beauty, a sight Quentin has never appreciated before. Margo gestures to their residences and portrays Orlando as a "paper town," which, in her words, is a fragile, insincere place designed to crumble. Uncertain of the appropriate response, Quentin invites her to join him at lunch the following day.

part 1 chapter 7

After returning to the minivan at nearly 4 am, Margo prompts Quentin to choose a person for retaliation. Unable to come up with any names, Margo suggests targeting Chuck Parson, who once humiliated Quentin in a dance class during sixth grade. Their plan of revenge involves applying Vaseline on all doorknobs and defacing Chuck’s house with spray paint. Initially, they mistakenly intrude the wrong house, which they realize when an elderly man, not Chuck, switches on the light. After a quick escape, Quentin contacts Ben for Chuck’s correct address. Once inside, Margo applies a depilatory cream, Veet, on Chuck's eyebrow and the duo cover all the doorknobs with Vaseline. As Quentin cleans off the Veet, Chuck wakes up and cries out for his parents, but Margo and Quentin manage to flee just in time. As they exit, Quentin recalls Margo's somewhat amicable past with Chuck, a detail which Margo dismisses. She then reveals their final destination for the night: a break-in at Sea World.

part 1 chapter 8

Despite his initial reluctance, Quentin is persuaded by Margo to participate in the final phase of her plan: a covert break-in to Sea World. Margo's assertion of choosing him for her adventure ignites a sense of importance in Quentin. They devise an entry path into the park using satellite maps, wading through a dense grove to reach a moat. After crossing it, Margo suffers a snake bite which Quentin attempts to alleviate, only to discover it's a harmless garter snake. They scale a fence to gain entry into Sea World but are quickly spotted by a security guard. Margo, quick on her feet, bribes the guard with a hundred-dollar bill, sending him off. Amidst Sea World's ambient music, Margo compensates for her past rejection of Quentin in a sixth-grade dance class by engaging in a spontaneous dance with him near the seal tank.

part 1 chapter 9

Margo gives Quentin her camera on their drive home, vaguely instructing him to use Jase's naked photo judiciously. They reach Jefferson Park at 5:42 am, tidy up the minivan, and part ways. Margo softly confesses to Quentin that she had fun and would miss their time together. Quentin suggests she could spend time with him and his friends at school, but she dismisses the idea. She disappears into her room via a tree while Quentin heads into his house and into his room.

part 2 chapter 1

After a scant half hour of sleep, Quentin is woken by his mom and trudges downstairs to find his parents in conversation about his father's recurring anxiety dream. The dream involves a Hebrew test, and Quentin's mom attempts to decode its meaning. Despite Quentin's sleepless night, his parents remain oblivious. Quentin's mom drops him off at school where Margo's car is conspicuously absent. Chuck Parson shows up with both eyebrows shaved off, thanks to Quentin and Margo. Quentin shares the details of their prank-filled night with Ben and Radar before the school bell interrupts them. Barely staying awake through his classes, Quentin spends lunch in Ben's car, recounting his entire escapade with Margo. Noticing Margo's car is still missing after school, he spends the evening in restless anticipation, hoping for another nighttime visit from Margo.

part 2 chapter 2

The next day, with Margo still gone, the high school descends into chaos. Chuck Parson and his pals damage younger students' bicycles, and freshmen get attacked with urine-filled squirt guns by a masked assailant. Quentin retaliates by threatening Jase with exposure of his naked photo unless Jase compensates the bike victims and stops the bullying. That evening, while Quentin and Ben are engrossed in a video game, Jase and Chuck pay a visit to Quentin's place. Jase offers an apology for his actions, which leads to Ben delivering a punch to Chuck. Despite the punch, Chuck refrains from retaliating on Jase's advice. Jase admires Quentin's bravery, and although Ben's hand aches from punching Chuck, Quentin is satisfied with having successfully curbed the chaos.

part 2 chapter 3

Early Saturday, Quentin finds Margo's parents, his own parents and Detective Otis Warren congregating around his dining table. Feeling cornered, Quentin covers up the truth by saying he briefly saw Margo on Wednesday night but hasn't since. Margo's parents exhibit frustration rather than worry, expressing annoyance at her repeated disappearances, even discussing changing locks to keep her out. Detective Warren reminds them about Margo's habit of leaving cryptic clues before she vanishes, reassuring them that she always comes back. In a one-on-one conversation, Quentin reveals his nighttime adventure with Margo to Detective Warren. The detective informs Quentin that such behaviour isn't unusual for Margo, comparing her to a helium balloon yearning to break free from the tether to her parents. He encourages Quentin, despite Quentin's confusion over the metaphor, that Margo will most likely return. After everyone departs, Quentin and his family discuss the unhealthy atmosphere in Margo's home. Quentin proposes to his parents that they allow Margo to live with them upon her return. His parents agree with reservations about potential challenges. Later, Quentin's friends Radar and Ben join him and he shares his conversation with the detective. As Quentin gazes out the window, he notices a new poster on Margo's window, featuring Woody Guthrie with a guitar captioned "this machine kills fascists". Convinced it's meant for him by Margo, Quentin shares his discovery with Radar and Ben, as only he can view Margo's window from his room.

part 2 chapter 4

After the departure of Detective Warren and Margo's parents, Quentin, Ben, and Radar head to Margo's residence. They are greeted by Margo's younger sister, Ruthie, and their pet dog. Paying Ruthie five dollars, they convince her to let them in without informing her parents. On entering Margo's room, they are astonished to find a large collection of vinyl records. Quentin stumbles upon a Billy Bragg album, the back cover of which matches a poster in Margo's room. The title "Walt Whitman’s Niece" is distinctly encircled. Radar, while exploring Margo's computer, observes her frequent edits on Omnictionary, but her cleared browsing history leaves him clueless about the specifics. Quentin later discovers a copy of Walt Whitman's poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, in Margo's possession. Taking it home, he notices several passages highlighted by Margo. Over the weekend, Quentin spends his time examining the highlighted sections, but fails to deduce any meaningful conclusions.

part 2 chapter 5

Lacey Pemberton startles Quentin and Ben by approaching them with questions about Margo. She shares that she was unaware of Jase and Becca's secret relationship, leading her to break up with her boyfriend. Lacey's mention of her now vacant prom date catches Ben's interest. She also hints at the possibility of Margo being in New York, a place that Margo found appealing. Quentin leaves to allow Ben to ask Lacey to the prom. Many acknowledge Quentin for making Jase reimburse the children for their damaged bikes. During lunch, Ben enlightens Lacey about Margo's record collection, a piece of information that Lacey finds surprising. She plans to have her cousin in New York spread flyers in record stores in case Margo shows up. Ben and Lacey begin discussing prom arrangements after she accepts Ben's invitation, much to Quentin's astonishment. Throughout the day, Quentin is occupied with the Leaves of Grass but fails to find any clues leading to Margo. Post band practice, Ben and Radar revisit the highlighted lines in Margo's book. One line emphasized in a different color gets their attention. Ben posits that the phrase might be literal, suggesting they should try unlocking Margo's door.

part 2 chapter 6

Once school is over, Quentin, Ben, and Radar again gain access to Margo’s home, courtesy of Ruthie. They search Margo’s room but find no clues, leaving them disheartened. While playing video games at Quentin's place, Ben proposes that Quentin should travel to New York to find Margo and invite her to prom. Quentin dismisses the idea due to a French exam the next day. Later, he remembers a child patient of his mother’s who continually drew circles to deal with the loss of his father. This memory prompts Quentin to question whether his reliance on routine is hindering his search for Margo.

part 2 chapter 7

Quentin confides in his parents about Margo's clues - the Woody Guthrie poster and Walt Whitman book. They advise him to let Margo deal with her issues and concentrate on his own affairs, however, Margo continues to preoccupy his thoughts. A chat with Ben about Lacey's prom shoes leaves Quentin feeling dull and later, downhearted. Despite having no desire to attend prom, the prospect of locating Margo before the event excites him. Suddenly, Quentin realizes that if Margo's hints were meant for him, then the door mentioned in the clues could be his own. Upon inspecting his bedroom door, he discovers a note in Margo's handwriting that says “8328 Bartlesville Avenue,” an address nearly thirty-four miles away. He contacts Ben and Radar and they concur to feign illness, skip school and investigate the address the following day.

part 2 chapter 8

In the early hours, Quentin forces himself to vomit in order to justify his illness to his mother. His friends Ben and Radar show up and they all set off for the mysterious address, leading them to a deserted minimall located in a ghostly subdivision. Quentin's mom refers to it as a "pseudovision". Quentin, enveloped by the foul stench of death, feels an overwhelming surge of dread and fear, more potent than any he's experienced before, regarding what they might stumble upon. Ben contemplates contacting the authorities, but Quentin and Radar concur it's imperative they inspect the minimall independently to begin with.

part 2 chapter 9

While investigating the building, Quentin, Ben, and Radar stumble upon a decaying raccoon carcass, responsible for the foul odor permeating the mall. Despite this discovery, Quentin's anxiety about Margo's potential suicide persists. After breaking through a boarded window, the boys step into a dusty room filled with shelves and aged documents. They notice a crude passage labelled “TROLL HOLE” and decide to explore it, leading them to a series of empty rooms. The last room they uncover appears to have been a souvenir shop, now covered in a layer of dust. Their exploration concludes in a deserted office, all the desks adorned with calendars from February 1986. “YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK” is scrawled on the wall. Quentin is convinced it’s Margo’s handwriting, leaving them feeling uneasy. Consequently, Quentin, Ben, and Radar exit the premises.

part 2 chapter 10

After being dropped home by Ben and Radar, Quentin panics about the morning's events and contacts Detective Warren, sharing all clues including those about the desolate mall. The detective discourages Quentin from pursuing Margo, stating she is a capable adult and warning Quentin of the dangers of losing himself in his search. Quentin finds online that 'paper towns' can also mean 'pseudovisions', leading him to believe more firmly that Margo may have committed suicide. Despite Ben and Radar's attempts to comfort him and accusations of Margo's selfishness, Quentin's worry intensifies. Following his decision to investigate local pseudovisions, he uses Ben's car to visit two of them post-school. At the second site, a sight of an oak tree triggers memories of a dead man he and Margo had discovered during their childhood, leaning against a similar tree. Imagining Margo in the same state, Quentin breaks down, bereft of any clues and overwhelmed with missing her.

part 2 chapter 11

On Friday at school, Quentin discloses to his friends his failed pseudovisions search, prompting Lacey to break down at the thought of Margo's potential suicide. He consults Dr. Holden, his English teacher, about Margo's highlighted parts in Leaves of Grass. Dr. Holden encourages him to appreciate the poem's celebration of life, but this doesn't console Quentin. The next day, he gets frustrated with Ben and Radar's prom preparations. He borrows his parents' minivan under the false pretense of needing to rent a tux for prom. In reality, he continues his search for Margo at other pseudovisions, but his efforts prove fruitless.

part 2 chapter 12

Quentin revisits the derelict mall, spotting that the hole they'd made was now taped. The realization dawns upon him that they hadn’t needed to force entry, as the doors actually opened inward. Inside the forsaken office, Quentin discovers a desk calendar switched from February to June 1986. A bottle of nail polish in the desk drawer matches the shade Margo wore during their escapade. A speck of blue spray paint confirms it's hers, and speculation arises that she may have occupied the building post their adventure. Quentin conducts a thorough examination of the room, uncovering nine pinholes on the wall, an empty granola bar box, and a blanket carrying Margo's scent. Falsely assuring his parents he's staying with Ben post-prom, Quentin decides to sleep in the Troll Hole despite the rat presence. With no digital distractions, he immerses himself in “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass, finding new understanding in it. Inspired, he verbally commits to finding something significant in the minimall. His search reveals a travel guide from 1998, years after the mall was deserted. This discovery of many more guides above the bookshelves, all post-1986, leads him to believe Margo must have brought them.

part 2 chapter 13

Quentin is stirred awake by an early morning call from his intoxicated friend Ben who's at a post-prom party and requires a sober driver. At the party, Quentin finds Ben excelling at keg stands, despite his lack of previous drinking experience. Amongst the merry and emotional crowd, Chuck Parson surprisingly offers Quentin respect. Quentin takes a break from the party's chaos and stumbles upon Becca and Jase, who mistakenly calls Becca 'Margo' during their intimate moment, leading to Becca's anger. Seeking solace, Quentin finds Lacey in the bathroom, upset because Becca spread rumors about her having an STD. Their conversation shifts to Margo, and Lacey asks Quentin to take her to the deserted minimall, fearing Margo might be dead. Come dawn, they rejoin the party upstairs where a drunken Ben confesses his love for Lacey and makes Quentin and Radar promise to attend graduation without any clothing underneath their robes. Ben has managed to craft and attach a beer can sword to his hands. After removing most of the cans, one stubbornly remains stuck. Finally, Quentin drives the duo, Lacey and Ben, back to their houses.

part 2 chapter 14

Quentin reaches out to Ben the following day around noon, finding him nursing a severe hangover. Ben declines to discuss Margo, to Quentin's annoyance, as he believes Ben and Radar aren't as involved in the search as he is. After this, Quentin contacts Radar, who, despite his hangover, agrees to meet and discuss their progress concerning Margo. They converse about the travel guides and Radar introduces Quentin to a software that generates itineraries for any set of locations. Radar reveals that he's been consistently conducting online searches for Margo and has set up an alert for any activity from her Omnictionary username. This catches Quentin off guard, making him realise that he's been neglecting his friendships since the Margo search began. Radar advises Quentin to mend his relationship with Ben, leading Quentin to invite Ben over for video games.

part 2 chapter 15

Quentin devotes his time to scrutinizing “Song of Myself,” briefly taking a break to enjoy turkey burgers with his folks. While his parents delve into a discussion about Chuck Parson and his bullying tendencies, Quentin has a revelation. He's been putting Margo on a pedestal, making her more than she is, when she's simply a regular girl.

part 2 chapter 16

Quentin, Ben, Lacey, and Radar visit the minimall after school, discussing their varying theories about Margo. Inside, they encounter a masked group, among them is Gus, the SunTrust security guard known by Lacey. Gus and his companions, Ace and the Carpenter, enjoy urban exploration, often joined by Margo who preferred to jot in her notebook. When Lacey becomes emotional, the Carpenter offends her, prompting Ben to retaliate. However, Quentin and Radar manage to defuse the situation, causing Gus, Ace, and the Carpenter to depart. In the minimall, Ben and Lacey spot pinholes in the wall, prompting them to ponder about Margo's actions. Lacey recalls Margo's notebook and expresses regret for not inquiring about it. Quentin discovers a stack of subdivision brochures arranged like a card house and discreetly notes down the names to investigate them solo later.

part 2 chapter 17

Quentin spends his Friday evening exploring Collier Farms, a pseudovision he discovered in the minimall. However, his search turns up nothing, as does his visit to another pseudovision. He receives a call from Ben about a party at Radar's house due to his parents' sudden trip to Pittsburgh. Their mission is to acquire the world's second-largest collection of black Santas, following the previous owner's aneurysm. Initially unsure, Quentin decides to go to the party where they secure the most precious black Santas. Ben is nervous since he shared his first kiss with Lacey and doubts his kissing skills. During the gathering, Quentin and his pals reaffirm their vow to attend graduation wearing only their robes. Quentin remains mostly silent, absorbing the chatter around him. Upon returning home, he's overcome with frustration from the pin-up maps on his wall and rips them down. Examining the remaining pattern of holes, he theorizes that Margo must have had a similar map with thumbtacks marking specific locations. This would explain the identical pinhole pattern they found at the minimall.

part 2 chapter 18

Quentin and Radar return to the minimall, sifting through a box of maps and pamphlets. They discover a damaged 1972 U.S. map from the Esso Company with pinholes, but its ripped state complicates identifying Margo's pinned locations. The holes are in major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, with a tear close to Woodstock in New York State. Later that evening, Quentin revisits the Whitman poem and engages in online chat with Lacey, Radar, and Ben regarding Margo.

part 2 chapter 19

Despite their ongoing exams, Quentin's squad remains engrossed in Margo's mysteries. Ben and Lacey hypothesize that Margo plans to reappear at graduation, having completed a journey to every location on her map. In a separate discussion, Radar unveils a software he developed, which gives a quick summary of numerous articles centered on a specific Omnictionary keyword. On the final day of school, Quentin, experiencing a wave of nostalgia while cleaning his locker, impulsively starts running, experiencing a sense of freedom similar to what Margo must have felt. In the midst of his sprint, Ben and Radar catch up to him in a car and offer him a ride.

part 2 chapter 20

Struggling to pinpoint Margo's location, Quentin obsessively studies the map points and Whitman poem. On graduation morning, his parents surprise him with a car — a minivan. Despite its uncool appearance, Quentin delights in owning a vehicle. He shares news of his new car over instant messaging with his friends. Radar suggests storing leftover party beer in the minivan. Quentin, using Radar's computer program, decides to explore Omnictionary for potential geographic hints. He stumbles across an entry about Agloe, New York, a fictitious town created by Esso. He learns these are known as 'paper towns', copyright traps used by mapmakers to detect plagiarism. In Agloe's discussion page, he finds a comment: “fyi, whoever Edits this––the Population of agloe Will actually be One until may 29th at Noon.” The random capitalization and timing of the comment hint it's Margo's. With the current date being May twenty-eighth, Quentin realizes he has less than a day to reach Agloe before Margo departs. Quentin quickly contacts Radar and Ben, requesting they bring the beer to school. Quentin speeds to the school in his new car, excitedly tells his parents about his quest to find Margo in New York, and sets off, foregoing his graduation. Quentin, Lacey, Ben, and Radar pile into the minivan and head for Agloe.

part 3 hours 1-21

The group gets in touch with their families and significant others, settling swiftly into their respective roles for the road trip. Quentin takes up the steering wheel, while Lacey keeps tabs on their supplies. Radar takes on the responsibility of mapping out the route and logistics, whereas Ben seems to be having a rough time with a pressing need to urinate. Quentin steps on the gas to cover distance quickly. As they play I-Spy during the second hour of the journey, Lacey and Ben engage in some flirtatious banter. Quentin speeds past a cop at seventy-two miles per hour in a fifty-five zone, but luckily, avoids getting pulled over. By the third hour, Ben's situation becomes dire. Radar empties a beer bottle for Ben to relieve himself in, but one bottle isn't enough. The rest of the group is disgusted, but Ben feels victorious in overcoming his predicament. In the fourth hour, Lacey takes charge of procuring supplies during their upcoming stop at a gas station. They efficiently execute their plan and hit the road once again with just four seconds to spare. By the fifth hour, they find that Quentin forgot to grab healthier snacks. Lacey initially complains about the GoFast bars but ends up liking them. Radar and Ben are surprised by the Confederate flag printed t-shirts that Quentin randomly picked up for them. The sixth hour sees the group stuck in traffic, entertaining themselves by playing a game called “That Guy Is a Gigolo,” where they invent stories about fellow motorists. As they advance into the seventh hour, fatigue begins to wear them out. They take turns to sleep and Quentin imagines their minivan as a small house with every section serving a distinct purpose. By the eighth hour, Quentin takes over driving from Radar and manages to relieve himself in an energy drink bottle while on the move. By the ninth hour, Quentin and Radar grow tired of the nutrition bars and are jittery from the energy drinks. During their second stop at midnight, Quentin wakes up Ben and Lacey. He buys Radar a "World's Best Grandma" T-shirt and more energy drinks. They get back on the road a minute behind schedule. By the eleventh hour, they are once again stuck in construction traffic. Lacey is now at the wheel. They make a stop so Lacey and Ben can relieve themselves, and Quentin takes over the driving. The twelfth hour sees a dramatic turn of events as Quentin and Ben, the only ones awake, nearly collide with a cow on the road. Ben manages to steer the car to safety, saving everyone's lives. After the close shave, Ben takes over the driving. The thirteenth hour is spent discussing their near-fatal encounter, with Ben modestly dismissing his heroic actions as mere survival instincts. The fourteenth hour of the trip involves cleaning up the car's interior, which due to the incident earlier, also needs a side panel replacement. Quentin is undeterred, considering it a small price to pay in their quest to find Margo. By the fifteenth hour, a tired Quentin retreats to the backseat for some sleep. Before drifting off, he thinks about how much he's enjoyed the road trip and imagines hanging out with his friends in New York, even if Margo isn't there. Quentin wakes up during the nineteenth hour to the ongoing debate between Radar and Ben about naming the car. He suggests 'The Dreidel', a name that symbolizes the car's performance. During the twentieth hour, they pass the time with their metaphysical I Spy game and singing along with the radio. As they reach the twenty-first hour, they arrive in the Catskills, near the presumed location of Margo, with thirty minutes to spare. Lacey and Quentin recall all they know about Margo, hoping it might help in their search.

part 3 agloe

They spot Margo's car outside what may have once been the Agloe General Store and find her inside, disheveled and immersed in writing. She asks for five minutes before speaking to them. When she finally does, she teases Lacey for dating Ben, leading to Lacey, Ben, and Radar leaving in irritation. Quentin and Margo have a heated exchange during which she insists she never wanted to be found. Quentin questions her motive for leaving clues if she didn't want to be discovered. Margo doesn't directly respond, instead explaining her need to escape her old life. She reveals her intent to leave for New York City that day. Margo's friends call to inform Quentin that they're leaving the next day, with or without him. Margo shares that her desire to escape started with a detective novel she wrote when she was ten featuring characters named Margo and Quentin. She had been plotting her escape since then, originally intending to do it on graduation night. However, upon discovering her boyfriend's infidelity, she expedited her plans. She confesses that she always intended to include Quentin in her plans but he became more real to her than the "paper boy" she had envisioned. She left him clues so he wouldn't worry and to push him out of his comfort zone. She tried to not let him read too much into her clues. Margo likens herself to a paper girl, which led to her fascination with Agloe, a paper town. She expresses feeling deeply broken inside. Quentin, having feared she was dead, is taken aback. She calls her family to reassure them, and then she and Quentin lay in the grass discussing Walt Whitman's poem. She admits that the actual Quentin fulfilled the fantasy of the Quentin in her novel. They bury a symbolic representation of their younger selves, signifying the burial of their past. They reflect on the complexity of life and acknowledge the humanness of Robert Joyner. Quentin uses metaphors to make sense of things. He kisses Margo, and she invites him to New York, but he declines, feeling tethered to his life back home. They bury Margo's notebook as a symbolic goodbye and move all her belongings to her car. Margo drives Quentin back to the motel where their friends are staying. Before parting, they share another kiss and a lingering look, promising to keep in touch.

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