Summary: Chapter 1
Quentin’s mom shakes him awake after half an hour of sleep. When he drags himself downstairs, his dad is discussing his recurring anxiety dream about taking a test in Hebrew, which Quentin’s mom tries to interpret. Neither suspects a thing about Quentin’s wild night. When Quentin’s mom drives him to school, Margo’s car isn’t there. Chuck Parson arrives at school with his left eyebrow shaved off to match his missing right one. Quentin tells Ben and Radar that it was his and Margo’s doing, and then the bell rings. Quentin can barely keep his eyes open in class. During lunch in Ben’s car, Quentin relays the entire adventure to Ben. After school, Quentin notices that Margo’s car is missing from her driveway. That night, even though he’s exhausted, Quentin can’t help but hope that Margo she’ll come to his window again.
Summary: Chapter 2
Margo is still missing the following day, and in her absence, the high school falls into a state of near anarchy. Chuck Parson and his friends run over younger students’ bikes, and someone wearing a ski mask shoots squirt guns filled with urine at some freshmen. Quentin sends an email to Jase saying that he will release the naked photograph to the whole school unless Jase pays back the kids whose bikes were destroyed, in addition to putting an end to the bullying. That night, when Quentin and Ben are playing a video game called Resurrection, Jase and Chuck come over to Quentin’s house. Jase apologizes for what he did, and Ben punches Chuck in the stomach. Chuck barely flinches, and doesn’t fight back at the advice of Jase. Jase tells Quentin that he respects Quentin’s guts. Ben’s hand hurts from Chuck’s abs, but Quentin is pleased with himself for stemming the tide of anarchy.
Summary: Chapter 3
On Saturday, the following morning, Margo’s parents, Quentin’s parents, and Detective Otis Warren are all around Quentin’s dining room table when Quentin wakes up. Put on the spot, Quentin lies and says that he saw Margo Wednesday night only briefly, when she came to his window around midnight, but that he hasn’t seen her since. Margo’s parents seem more annoyed at Margo than worried. She’s run away before, and they say they’ve had enough of it. They talk about changing the locks so that she can’t get back in even if she does try to return. The detective reminds them all that Margo usually leaves clues when she runs away, even if the clues are somewhat ambiguous, and that Margo usually returns.
Detective Warren asks to talk to Quentin privately, and Quentin tells him the entire story of his night with Margo. The detective explains to Quentin that Margo’s pattern of behavior isn’t unusual. He describes Margo as a helium balloon, straining against the string of her parents. Something happens to cut the string, says the detective, and the balloon floats away, but there are lots of lost balloons filling the sky. Quentin doesn’t admit to not entirely understanding this metaphor, but the detective assures Quentin that Margo will probably return.
When Margo’s parents and Detective Warren leave, Quentin’s family agrees that Margo’s family dynamic is not healthy. Quentin suggests to his parents that Margo live with them when she comes back. His parents say that she would be welcome, but that that situation would pose its own challenges. Radar comes over and he, Ben, and Quentin play Resurrection while Quentin fills them in on what happened with Detective Warren. Quentin looks out the window and notices something he’s never seen before on Margo’s window shade: a poster of Woody Guthrie holding a guitar painted with the words, “this machine kills fascists.” Radar and Ben think that Margo must have left the clue for Quentin, because the poster is facing out directly towards Quentin’s room, and no one but Quentin is able to see Margo’s window.
Summary: Chapter 4
Quentin, Ben, and Radar wait until Detective Warren and Margo’s parents have left, and then they go over to Margo’s house. Ruthie, Margo’s little sister, is at home with tMyrna Mountweazel, the family’s dog. Quentin asks Ruthie to let them in without telling her parents, and Ruthie charges them five dollars for the favor. When Quentin, Ben, and Radar go to Margo’s room, they’re surprised to discover that Margo has an enormous collection of vinyl records. Quentin finds a Billy Bragg album that has the same photograph of Woody Guthrie on the back as the poster on Margo’s window shade. The song title “Walt Whitman’s Niece” has been circled. Radar has been fiddling on Margo’s computer, and he can tell that she’s been editing Omnictionary a lot, but since she cleared her browsing history, he doesn’t know what pages she was editing.