"I didn't know where to start, and I had absolutely no idea how Braden would respond to any of it. I could see him studying me in my peripherals. He tilted his head, most likely realizing what I was about to say had truly been weighing on me." (Pg 171)

After seven years of burying the past, plus weeks of being ignorant to signs of corruption within Santi's business, Jay finally decides to voice what's been weighing on him.


This is actually the first scene I wrote for this book. I was in the shower one day and the thought of two brothers discussing how they both coped with the loss of a loved one in different ways popped into my head. I was working in nightclub design at the time and loved the irony of discussing painful things in a place designed for pleasure.

"Tears continued to fall, and I could feel our demons and the darkness--all the doubt, all the blame, all the insecurities--being let go of once and for all as we wept under the willow leaves." (Pg 173)

In literature and art, the willow tree often symbolizes seeking recovery or being on a spiritual path for new life. I knew The Willow was the perfect name for the nightclub because Jay is led to it both to recover and to live this new life where he has triumphed over his demons.



"I chose to bury that night and everything that had to do with it deep within the confines of my mind and heart." (Pg 184)

Jay copes with Josh's death by choosing ignorance. He takes the full blame upon himself and decides to run away, numbing himself with distractions and diving into other people's lives instead of his fixing his own.

"Braden downed what was left of his drink and reached for the bottle behind the bar. I stood to my feet and shoved his arm away from the bottle, instantly triggered by his attempt to drink more as if it were a solution to our problems." (Pg 175)

Braden copes with Josh's death by choosing substance abuse. He takes the full blame upon himself and decides to indulge in drinking and drugs, which aids him as a short-term solution, but is destructive in the long.

"My mother never escaped it. She prayed the same prayer the same way she did that morning at the police station." (Pg 184)

Jay and Braden's mother never let go of Josh's death. When she prays in chapter 13 the exact same way she did back in chapter 3, this symbolizes her inability to move on. When I wrote this, I wasn't implying that prayer is ineffective, I'm implying that we need to trust and have faith that the prayer will be met in addition to simply praying itself. Carmen Amor couldn't get herself to forgive Jay and Braden, thus making it difficult for her to let go of Josh's death once and for all.

After discovering what Jay has been exposed to, how has your read of Santi changed?