The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Miah and Ellie are two young characters who must come to terms with their unexpected love for each other. Most of the novel’s plot conflicts are internal, as the two characters struggle with the perception that the people in their lives will react badly to their relationship. To readers, it is not certain that this negative reaction will ever actually occur, and when Miah and Ellie do give each other a chance, it seems their families and acquaintances are not upset with their choice, but simply curious. The book is about Miah and Ellie getting ready to face the challenges of interracial dating, but their chance is taken away before they ever have to face any significant opposition to their love.

At the same time, Miah and Ellie each struggle with family issues. Miah’s parents are separated, which places a great strain upon him. He loves them, but he does not want to be defined by their successes and failures, so it is a difficult choice for him to admit to Ellie who his parents are. Ellie is still coming to terms with her mother’s abandonment, which has left her mistrustful of the people who should always be there for her: her parents. She finds in Miah a good confidant for her concerns. The home lives of the two teens inform their relationship experience, as Miah must overcome his fears about being black in a white world and Ellie must overcome her trust issues and her reluctance to be different from her peers by dating an African American.