Andrea Bartz’s We Were Never Here Ending Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary are provided below. Spoiler alert: this summary contains spoilers. See The Bibliofile’s review of Andrea Bartz’s We Were Never Here for a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis.
Quick(-ish) Recap of We Were Never Here Ending
The one-paragraph version of We Were Never Here Ending: Emily and Kristen are on vacation in Chile when Kristen murders a man, claiming he assaulted her. They dispose of the body as a group. It is similar to an incident last year when Kristen killed a man who attempted to assault Emily. Kristen eventually moves in with Emily and becomes very clingy. Emily fears Kristen is intimidated by Emily’s new boyfriend, Aaron.
Emily begins to see how Kristen has always wanted Emily to herself and has destroyed her previous relationships. She believes Kristen murdered the man in Chile in order to bring them closer together because of their shared pain. When Kristen ultimately blackmails Emily about the killings in order to force her to stay close to her, Emily attempts to push Kristen off a cliff but changes her mind. Kristen then attempts to murder Emily, but she is stopped and killed by Aaron.
Emily Donovan and her closest friend Kristen Czarnecki are on vacation in Chile when Emily returns home from a night out to discover Kristen in the room with a dead body. Kristen claims Paolo, the man she welcomed back, assaulted her after refusing to accept no for an answer.
Emily is horrified and traumatized by events that occurred while they were on vacation in Cambodia barely a year ago. In that situation, Emily had invited Sebastian back to their hotel, and he had been too hard with her. When she told him to leave, he tried to abuse her until Kristen returned to the room and stopped him. Sebastian had died, and the body had been thrown from the nearby cliff into the water of We Were Never Here Ending.
In the present, they rehash a previous conversation about how tough dealing with foreign police can be. The women understand once more that the only solution is to get rid of the body. When Emily returns home to Milwaukee, she is disturbed by Kristen’s apparent lack of concern and the weird coincidence of this happening twice to them.
Emily wishes to separate herself from their friendship, but Kristen shows up at her door, announcing that she is returning to Milwaukee (from Sydney). Kristen is visiting her grandparents (because her parents died in a house fire when she was 12).
Kristen quickly hijacks Emily’s birthday plans, transforming it into a weekend getaway for the two of them at Kristen’s grandparents’ lake cottage. Emily assumes Kristen wants to keep Emily close because she is threatened by Emily’s new boyfriend, Aaron. She ultimately begins to reflect on her previous relationships and suspects Kristen intended to undermine them in order to keep her to herself in We were never here ending.
Meanwhile, Chilean authorities have discovered Paolo’s body. He is an American from an affluent family who is offering a $1 million prize for information about his death. Emily learns about Kristen’s childhood closest friend, Jamie, who died at the lake house. According to an online search, Jamie committed suicide two weeks after Kristen’s parents died.
When they get home, Emily begins to distance herself from Kristen’s companionship in We Were Never Here Ending, but Kristen reminds her that she has dirt on her by showing her a photo of Emily and Sebastian together. When they had a disagreement and Kristen threatens to report it to the authorities. Kristen also shows her that she still has proof of the Paolo murder to use against her, and she claims that Emily, not her, killed Sebastian.
Emily organizes an unplanned weekend getaway to Arizona with Aaron in order to get away from Kristen. Kristen, on the other hand, seems. Meanwhile, the police have produced a sketch of the suspect in Paolo’s murder, whom they have identified as an American lady. Police have also found that Paolo was drugged before to his death.
Kristen forces Emily to hang out with her in Arizona in We Were Never Here Ending. Emily, feeling cornered, believes Kristen has underestimated her, and she understands that she (Emily) was the one who killed Sebastian. Emily shoves Kristen off a neighboring cliff with this in mind. Kristen, on the other hand, ends herself hanging from a ledge, and Emily has a change of heart and saves her.
When Aaron approaches, Kristen retaliates by attempting to shove Emily in front of his truck. But Aaron manages to swerve in time and instead collides with Kristen, sending both of them careening down the cliff.
Aaron survives, but Kristen does not. Kristen’s godparents, Jamie’s parents, arrive at the hospital. Jenny (Jamie’s mother) informs Emily that even though she knew Kristen was trouble and a poor influence, she still felt horrible for her. Kristen was constantly trying to encourage Jamie to transgress, or she would do awful things and try to convince Jamie that it was her fault.
Jenny later discovered that Kristen’s father had abused Jamie. Jamie believed that the only way to end it was to murder him, so she set fire to the house, not aware that Kristen’s mother was present (as was Kristen, but Kristen escaped). Jamie committed suicide not long after.
In the present, Emily tells Aaron the whole truth about what happened, stating she’s willing to give herself in to keep Aaron from being accused with Kristen’s murder. But, Deirdre, he assists her in finding a lawyer. Kristen and Emily are soon linked to Paolo’s death by the police. However, Deirdre persuades them that Kristen was blackmailing Emily, and the case against Emily is dropped. Also, the Arizona police initially believe Aaron and Emily killed Kristen on purpose to silence her, but they finally give up after determining they cannot create a credible case against the two of them.
Section-by-Section Summary of We Were Never Here Ending
Chapters 1 – 3 of We Were Never Here Ending
Emily Donovan and her best friend Kristen Czarnecki, both in their thirties and college friends at Northwestern, are on their yearly reunion trip. Emily is a project manager at Kibble, an organic cat food start-up, and Kristen works at a market research agency. Kristen is stunning and hails from an affluent family.
Ben was Emily’s college boyfriend. For a long period, she had convinced herself that he was caring when, in fact, he was largely dominating. He’d been aggressive with her during a disagreement their senior year, and they’d ultimately broken up. Emily has lately begun dating a new man named Aaron Meuleman.
Emily and Kristen have been in South America for five days and will be there for two more. They’re in Chile right now. Emily is still scarred by the events of their previous journey to Cambodia last year, when things took a horrible turn. Sebastian, a rambunctious traveller, had attacked Emily, and they’d killed him in self-defense.
They’d met Sebastian in a bar, and Emily had asked him to her house. However, she had become uneasy when he had been too hard with her. When she urged him to go, he tried to sexually abuse her, but Kristen came in and stopped him. Kristen then struck him in the head with a light, and he struck his head again as he collapsed and died. Instead of dealing with the police, they throw the body down a nearby cliff and into the water, then flee the region.
Emily laments that he died, but she believes it was for the best that they disposed of the body rather than informing the local authorities. Emily had wanted to talk to a therapist about what had transpired afterward, but Kristen had been opposed to the notion. She’d instead offered to counsel her through it and had been there for her.
Chapters 4 – 8 of We Were Never Here Ending
In the present, Kristen offers that they take a six-month tour around the world. Emily is hesitant because she has only recently begun dating Aaron and she enjoys her job. She promises to think about it, but later tells Kristen that she doesn’t believe it’s a good idea because of other things going on in her life.
The following day is the last day of their journey. Emily returns to the table when they’re out for dinner to find a guy Kristen met, a traveller from Spain named Paolo, has joined them. Kristen eventually welcomes him back to their home, and they leave. Emily says she’ll remain and finish her drink before returning later. When Emily tries to pay for her drink, she notices her wallet has gone missing.
She eventually returns to the room. She is horrified to discover a distraught Kristen, who claims he attacked her, and Paolo’s lifeless body on the floor.
They consider telling the cops, but they come to the same conclusion as they did in Cambodia: they won’t believe them, and she’ll be arrested. They decide to take the body out to the middle of nowhere and bury it.
To get the body out of there, they wrap it in a shower curtain and, after making sure there’s no one outside, they load it onto the truck. They then break into their hotel’s shed and find a shovel. They then travel thirty minutes to what looks to be an empty hillside and begin digging. They are fatigued by the time the body is buried.
Chapters 9 – 13 of We Were Never Here Ending
When they return, it is morning. They finish cleaning the room and then roast Paolo’s personal items. Kristen accepts the lump and promises to dispose of it when she gets home. They arrive at the airport at the scheduled time and depart Chile. Kristen returns to Sydney by plane. Aaron arrives to pick up Emily when she returns to Milwaukee.
Emily is greeted warmly by her coworker Priya upon her return to work, and she strains not to reflect about what happened on the vacation. When she speaks with Kristen again, she is disturbed by how unbothered she appears and how eager she is to go on another trip.
When Emily goes out with Aaron later, she starts crying for no apparent reason, but she fights the impulse to tell him what she’s truly upset about. She instead returns home.
Emily soon meets Adrienne Oderdonk, a therapist in her fifties whom Priya suggested. She tries to explain her difficulties to Adrienne without going into too much detail.
Emily informs her that she was abused during a hookup last year and that she’s still not over it. She says that something similar happened to her best buddy just last week. She also claims that she doesn’t have many close friends outside Kristen and that she ended her relationship with her prior partner Colin after Kristen pointed out shortcomings.
Emily is startled when Priya shows her how Kristen commented on one of Priya’s Instagram images, despite the fact that Kristen and Priya don’t know each other. Emily keeps her distance from Kristen throughout the next few days by not phoning or texting her. When Kristen unexpectedly appears at her door, she is taken aback.
Chapters 14 – 17 of We Were Never Here Ending
Kristen explains that she is only visiting to surprise her and is staying at her grandparents’ house. They have dinner with Aaron that night. Kristen explains that she got let go from her work and decided to come spend out with Emily. Emily believes she should be happier about Kristen’s presence than she is.
Emily then drives Kristen back to her grandparents Nana and Bill’s place and greets them. It was erected close where Kristen’s parents died in a house fire when she was 12 years old. While Nana and Bill have always been friendly to Emily, Kristen portrays them in private as nasty and condescending. Emily realizes that they aren’t overjoyed to see Kristen. Nana requests that Emily exchange phone numbers before she goes.
By the weekend, there hasn’t been any word concerning Paolo’s death, and Emily begins to suspect that they may have gotten away with it. Aaron’s life is likewise going well. Emily is having an intimate moment with him when she receives many missed calls and a text from Kristen saying, “I need you.” She hurries out the door, just to contact Kristen and find out it’s nothing.
Emily tells Adrienne about her parents’ divorce when she is in her next therapy appointment. Emily describes them as emotionally apathetic. She also discusses how she feels as if she is abandoning Kristen by needing some space from her. Adrienne, on the other hand, pushes Emily to focus on connections other than her bond with Kristen. She also says that Kristen enjoys keeping Emily in a helpless position in her life.
Chapters 18 – 19 of We Were Never Here Ending
Emily’s birthday is on Thursday, and she has simple plans with Aaron. Despite Emily’s warnings, Kristen has organized a surprise for her that includes a scavenger hunt with a trail of clues. The first takes her to Priya. The second leads her to the doorman, who hands her a toy cat with the following clue written on its collar, indicating she should go buy a latte.
She meets Aaron, who has a gift for We Were Never Here Ending. Her joy is short-lived when she realizes it’s the green pocketbook she thought she’d lost that dreadful night in Chile. It turns out to be a different, but identical wallet that Kristen had assisted Aaron in selecting for Emily. The wallet contains a clue that leads her to her supervisor, Russell, who informs her that Kristen persuaded him to give her the rest of the week off.
She’s back in her flat. Kristen meets her and informs her that they are on their way to her grandparents’ lake cottage on Lake Novak. Aaron decided to cancel their dinner reservations for that night, according to Kristen. As they drive, Emily thinks about her relationship with Colin and wonders if she was too quick to stop it because of what Kristen said at the time of We Were Never Here Ending.
Chapters 20 – 23 of We Were Never Here Ending
They ultimately discuss about that night in Chile at the lake home, and Emily admits to being perplexed by Kristen’s seeming ease with everything. Kristen says she’s upset as well, but that Emily now looks at her like she’s some kind of monster. They end up crying and hugging each other, and Emily returns to feeling at ease with Kristen.
Instead, they discuss how Kristen was taught by her grandparents to be incredibly devout (a “Jesus Freak”), but she abandoned it all after her parents died. Later, Emily considers the number of deaths Kristen has witnessed in her life, including Sebastian, Paolo, both of her parents, and Jamie.
Emily sneaks into the storage bins at Kristen’s grandparents’ cottage late that night to retrieve her childhood items. Emily finds an old yearbook and seeks for a photo of Jamie, but her face has been wiped out all over the book.
Chapters 24 – 26 of We Were Never Here Ending
Emily slips and wounds her foot that night after seeing a dead rabbit laying on the ground. She summons Kristen, who rushes to her rescue. Emily finally gets a chance to use the hotspot Kristen brought to the cabin and connect to the internet late that night. She searches for “Jamie Rusch” and discovers that Jamie committed suicide on November 24, 2001, just two weeks after Kristen’s parents were murdered in a fire.
According to evaluations, Westmoor is a location where wealthy children are put instead of juvenile jail. Emily eventually sends them a message, and the response confirms that they only accept patients referred through the Wisconsin court system. They further confirm that Dr. Brightside does not accept outside patients in private practice and has only practiced at the center since it launched.
Chapters 27 – 28 of We Were Never Here Ending
Adrienne notes throughout their conversation that she left her notebook in her office rather than carrying it with her. Emily begins to question if Kristen had quit her job rather than being fired, and if Kristen had murdered Paolo in order to create a new trauma that would bond them together in the same way that the Cambodia incident had. She was astonished to find Kristen in Adrienne’s waiting room as she gathered her belongings to leave.
Back at home, Emily goes over the clues Kristen left for her for her birthday, and she notices one more hidden in the last clue that she didn’t notice earlier. It takes you to Kristen’s Dropbox account, where she has created a folder called “Chile.” Emily discovers the password for the folder by reading the birthday card Kristen sent her. To her horror, there is a photograph of Emily and Sebastian together inside.
Chapters 29 – 31 of We Were Never Here Ending
After that, Emily repeats the events in her head, wondering if she is misremembering what happened with Sebastian or if she was duped by Kristen. Emily, who is feeling overwhelmed, phones Aaron and asks if he wants to go away for the weekend. He later verifies that he will be allowed to leave work.
Kristen calls and texts Emily often the next day, and Emily does her best to avoid her. When she returns home, she finds a text message with a screenshot of the South African Police Service tip line and a note saying, “Don’t think I won’t pass over that photo.”
Chapters 32 – 36 of We Were Never Here Ending
Nana catches Emily before she departs and inquires about Kristen’s well-being. Kristen, she claims, has been acting agitated. Kristen appears behind her and cuts her off before she can finish her sentence. Emily texts Priya on the way home to advise her to avoid Kristen.
Emily and Aaron are about to board a plane bound for Phoenix, Arizona. On the way, there’s word that a witness to Paolo’s disappearance has come forward. Tiffany Yagasaki, a friend of his, was meant to meet with him, but he hadn’t shown up. Emily sent a secret message to Kristen regarding the news story.
Chapters 37 – 39 of We Were Never Here Ending
Then she considers how she (Emily) was the one who killed Paolo, as Kristen had claimed. She finally reaches out and shoves Kristen.
Kristen winds up perilously close to the edge. Emily understands she can’t do it and decides she needs to save her. She pulls her up, and they both remain there until Aaron arrives in their rental car. Kristen then shoves Emily into the path of the automobile. Aaron then swerves at Kristen, which sends both of them careening off the cliff.
Chapters 40 – 43 of We Were Never Here Ending
Jenny goes on to reveal that Jamie was assaulted by her basketball coach, Kristen’s father. Jamie had come to the conclusion (via her diary) that the only way to stop it was to kill him. Jamie decided to set fire to the house, expecting Kristen’s mother to be away, but they were all present. Kristen was able to exit the house unharmed, but both of her parents were killed.
Jenny later tried to tell Bill the truth about his son and what Jamie had done, but he refused to listen. Jenny also claims that her husband is unaware of the abuse or that Jamie started the fire.
Chapters 44 – 45 of We Were Never Here Ending
When Emily is finally able to speak with Aaron, she asks him why he showed up where she and Kristen were. He claims that he knew she didn’t want Kristen there and that he’d seen the police sketch of someone who resembled Kristen on the television. He’d been concerned that she was in danger. Their talk is cut short as a nurse enters and Aaron’s parents arrive.
The cops also want to speak with Emily again. They’ve determined that Kristen resembles someone the Chilean police are looking for and that she was in Chile during that time period. They’re also looking into what happened on the clifftop in Phoenix, and witnesses have reported seeing Emily and Kristen arguing in the hotel.
Chapters 46 of We Were Never Here Ending
Emily is advised to remain in the nation while the police investigate her case. Meanwhile, Paolo’s family maintains the media spotlight on her, and Tiffany Yagasaki admits that she met both Kristen and Emily on that fateful night in Chile. Emily has been fired from Kibble.
Aaron’s uncle introduces her to Deirdre, her lawyer. Deirdre is able to persuade Chilean authorities that the events in Chile were the consequence of Kristen blackmailing Emily. However, there was still the Arizona issue to address.
Aaron gains strength as the weeks pass. Emily eventually moves back home, and the media loses interest in the case. Deirdre appears to believe Arizona is struggling to build a case against her or Aaron, and neither of them is detained. It also helps that eyewitnesses watched Kristen virtually drag Emily outside, and Kristen was removed from her job for attacking her supervisor. Emily also discovers a vial of Rohypnol in Kristen’s toiletry kit. Emily interprets this as proof that Kristen drugged Paolo and that he almost certainly never attacked Kristen.
Aaron and Emily eventually move in together. Emily finally agrees to perform a 30-minute feature on cable for a price that is five times her annual wage in order to pay off his medical bills.
Deirdre verifies in January that the Arizona PD has withdrawn the case against any of them.
The novel concludes with Emily and Aaron traveling to Turkey. They strike up a conversation with another female solo traveler. Emily introduces herself as “Joan” (the fictitious name she used to use when traveling with Kristen) and introduces Aaron as “Dan.”
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