The Skin I’m In is a novel by Sharon G. Flake about seventh-grader Maleeka Madison overcoming insecurity about her race, despite teasing and lack of acceptance from her classmates. Throughout the book, several characters contribute to Maleeka’s journey to self-acceptance. The most influential of these is her teacher, Miss Saunders.
As she is developed as a character, several indicators reveal that Miss Saunders is wealthy. When Miss Saunders is introduced for the first time, she is described as wearing “a dark purple suit, and a starched white shirt with matching buttons,” an outfit that the narrator says “costs three hundred dollars, easy” (chapter 1). In other sections of the book, the narrator mentions Miss Saunders’s “Italian leather shoes” (chapter 3) and her gold jewelry (chapter 4). These points about Miss Saunders’s wealth foreshadow Maleeka’s discovery of her teacher’s past in an advertising agency prior to teaching at McClenton Middle School (chapter 14). Miss Saunders’s wealth and her powerful previous job help to set her up as an example for Maleeka of a strong woman who is comfortable in her own skin, even in the face of criticism and ridicule.