In some ways, Melinda’s third quarter could be considered her rock bottom; however, there are moments when readers do see Melinda making effort to work through her emotional trauma.
This section of the book does have some harsh emotional lows for Melinda. One of those lows is when Heather “breaks up” with Melinda. Heather is starting to become more social and more popular and has realized that her relationship with Melinda is hurting her chances at more social growth. This essentially leaves Melinda with no friends at all. She responds by consistently skipping school, and she gets in a fair amount of trouble for it.
Despite experiencing some low moments in the chapter, there are some glimmers of hope that show that Melinda is working through her emotional trauma in positive ways. At the start of the chapter "Riding Shotgun," readers get a good quote that shows some of Melinda's positive progress.
I am a good girl. I go to every single class for a week. It feels good to know what the teachers are talking about again.
This quote shows that Melinda is aware of how following the rules and doing "normal" things can help make her feel good.
A bit later in quarter 3, readers get the following quote near the end of a chapter.
Jeans that fit, that's a good start. I have to stay away from the closet, go to all my classes. I will make myself normal. Forget the rest of it.
This quote shows that Melinda is definitely trying to will herself back into the person that she used to be. She's trying to avoid the antisocial behaviors that she was previously doing, and she believes that acting normal will help her mind and emotions return to a pre-rape state. We will even see Melinda break out of her shell and act like a happy and cheerful high school student in this section:
We won, beating the Coatesville Cougars 51–50. The cheerleaders weep. The coaches embrace. I get caught up in the excitement and clap like a little girl.
The moment is enough to get David to approach her and ask her to a party. She isn't ready for that, but the post–basketball game cheeriness indicates that there is a glimmer of hope for Melinda.