Themes and Characters
Secrets and alienation are the dominant themes in thirteen- going on fourteen-yearold Melinda Sordino's account of her miserable freshman year in high school. Silence dominates her life. Due to a recent traumatic experience and subsequent ostracism based on uninformed perceptions, Melinda publicly is almost completely mute. When she begins school, her pain is fresh and "My throat squeezes shut, as if two hands of black fingernails are clamped on my windpipe." She lives in solitude and isolation both at school and home. Privately, she engages in a dynamic inner monologue in which she generates a constant commentary about the people and situations that she encounters, though her interactions with these characters and events are minimal and unsatisfactory.
Melinda's thoughts vocalize her observations about the hypocrisy and lies of both students and adults and reinforces her desire to be mute. Her monologue varies from being serious to sarcastic or humorous and reveals ideas and opinions that she would not dare to divulge publicly. She cynically wonders if there really is a "Permanent Record" which follows students and faculty throughout their lives, perhaps showing her unspoken worry that her rape has ruined her reputation. She laments, "Sometimes I think high school is one long hazing activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they'll let you become an adult. I hope it's worth it." Melinda is intelligent and witty, calling school orientation...
(The entire section is 3467 words.)
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