At the beginning of the novel, Noah is complaining and dissatisfied. His parents are making him write a thank you note to his grandparents, and he doesn't want to. Upon reflecting on his experiences at Century Village that past summer, however, Noah realizes that he has a responsibiity to give "just a few drops back to the bottle" (Chapter 1). By the end of the story, Noah has become a little less egotistical and more appreciative of the people around him in his life.
Nadia is an unhappy, angry child at the beginning of the story. She is being shuttled between her parents, who have just gone through a divorce, and she is bitter about the whole situation. Through the experience of helping the turtles on the beach at Century Village, Nadia understands that, like the turtles, some people have to make "switches" during certain times in their lives, and that it is all right to accept help whenever she might "need a lift between switches" (Chapter 2). By the end of the story, Nadia has accepted her family situation, just as she herself has found acceptance with the Souls.
Ethan, at the beginning of the story, lives in the shadow of his brother Luke's accomplishments. He is a quiet child who keeps to himself, and he feels uncomfortable whenever anything threatens to impose upon his carefully engineered isolation. By the end of the story, through his interactions with Julian on the bus, on the academic team, and at Sillington House, Ethan is much more open, having found the courage to "do things (he) had never done before" (Chapter 3).
Julian has always been a traveler of sorts. His parents worked on a cruise ship, and he has voyaged with them, or attended a series of different boarding schools. At the beginning of the narrative, Julian is socially isolated, badgered cruelly by his peers and mistrusted by Mrs. Olinski because of circumstance and his different, exotic appearance and mannerisms. By the end of the story, however, Julian has become an integral part of a close circle of friends, the Souls.
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Olinski is tentative and unsure. She has just recovered from a terrible accident which has left her a widow and a paraplegic, and is attempting to regain her old life and return to the profession of teaching. Students take advantage of her situation, being mean and disruptive, and she lacks the confidence to respond with adequate assertiveness. With the friendship and support of the Souls at school and at Sillington House, Mrs. Olinski becomes an effective, positive teacher and personality by the end of the novel.