The main character in the novel is the narrator, Melinda Sordino. She tells us of the trials she has as she starts high school after a disastrous summer where she lost her friends, confidence and innocence.
As the stress of being an ‘outcast’ builds, Melinda finds it increasingly difficult to speak, and withdraws into her artwork and a discarded broom closet.
Her art teacher, Mr Freeman, is key to Melinda finding the confidence to move on from the terrible events of the summer, and allow herself to ‘grow’.
Melinda is deserted by her friends after calling the police to a summer party. She is shunned by Rachel Bruin, her former best friend, who is also struggling with her identity. She changes her name to Rachelle, and spends time with the foreign students trying to be European. Melinda wants to protect Rachel from Andy, the boy who raped her that summer, but she can only write a note-
Andy Evans will use you. He is not what he pretends to be. I heard he attacked a ninth-grader. Be very, very careful.
Andy Evans is the senior who raped Melinda that summer. She manages to defend herself when he corners her for spreading what he says are rumors. She fights back, holding a piece of glass to his throat-
His lips are paralysed. He cannot speak. That’s good enough.