Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 407
Violet Markey is one of the main characters in the novel, and her tragedy and subsequent withdrawal from the world lead to the revelation that there is more to her than what her classmates thought. Once a popular cheerleader with an athletic boyfriend, Violet becomes depressed after the car crash that led to her sister's death. Her reputation as the girl who has it all is replaced with a reputation for being the surviving Markey girl, and people both pity and ignore her. Fortunately, Theodore Finch comes along just in time and helps bring Violet back out of her shell—and this time, people will see even more of who she really is. Violet is kind, caring, and well-read, with a particular affinity for Virginia Woolf.
Theodore Finch, rebel and outcast of the town, is the novel's second protagonist. He struggles to accept that he has bipolar disorder, and his untreated bouts of mania and depression take a big toll on his mental health and on his image—people don't understand him, so they assume that everything he does is for the attention. When Finch falls in love with his new friend Violet, he decides that he must try harder to manage his mental illness, but he wants to do so on his own.
Eleanor Markey is not a present character in the novel, but she is important. Her death is the primary turning point in Violet's life, and learning to grieve and accept the loss of Eleanor is Violet's biggest challenge in the novel.
Amanda Monk was once a close friend of Violet's, but after the accident, the two drift apart. Amanda is a cheerleader and often comes across as vapid and selfish, though we learn that she, too, has her secrets.
Ryan Cross is also a remnant of Violet's life before the accident. He was her boyfriend, and though they decided to take a break after Eleanor's death (which is ultimately the end of their relationship), he continues to have feelings for Violet.
Mr. Embry is Finch's guidance counselor and the only adult who seems to be on Finch's side. Mr. Embry is aware of Finch's bipolar disorder and feels a lot of guilt that he can't (or doesn't) do more to help Finch.
Violet's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Markey, are good parents who try to help Violet open up about her grief and try to help her resume living like a happy teenage girl.
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