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"Lorraine Jensen is a fifteen-year-old high-school sophomore who lives in the same Staten Island neighborhood as John Conlan, her best friend. She is intelligent and thoughtful, is interested in psychology, and wants to be a writer. She moved into John's neighborhood at the beginning of freshman year, and the first few weeks were torture for her. She was depressed and isolated because she didn't know anyone, and she was shy and insecure about her looks. She met John on the bus, when he sat next to her one day and started laughing. At first she was offended, thinking he was laughing at her, but then she began laughing, too, and from that day on, they were friends.
Lorraine calls herself "paranoid," because she's worried that others don't think much of her, but this is clearly a response to the way her mother has always treated her. Her mother has always told her how ugly and clumsy she is, and at the same time, repeatedly warns her about the evil intentions of men and boys and tells her never to be alone with them. Perhaps because of her sensitivity, she is very compassionate toward others, particularly people she perceives as underdogs. Her compassion is unusual among teenagers; for example, she writes movingly of a poor teacher who keeps her elderly and ill mother in the living room of her apartment, and about Mr. Pignati, whose wife has died."