Tommy is the boy whom Katherine, the protagonist, liked before she met Michael. Katherine had a crush on Tommy and thought she loved him. But she soon discovered that all Tommy wanted her for was to have sex. When she turned him down, he dropped her and found another girl. Tommy is one year older than Katherine and goes away to college in Katherine's senior year. When he comes back to town, he calls Katherine up and asks her to go out with him. By this time, Katherine is over him and turns him down. Tommy represents the negative side of boys who attach no emotions to a sexual relationship. He was barely interested in friendship. All he wanted to experience was the pleasure of having sex.
Diana is Katherine's mother. She is a librarian, specializing in children's literature. Diana is very supportive of her daughter and fairly open minded for the timeframe of this novel. She speaks rather candidly to Katherine about boyfriends and relationships. She allows Katherine to go on trips with Michael. She is not as candid as her mother, Hallie Gross, however. Diana stops short of helping Katherine to find a method of birth control. Rather, Diana talks in generalities and hopes that Katherine is smart enough to take care of the details. Although Diana approves of Katherine's relationship with Michael, she supports her husband when it comes time to separate Katherine from Michael during the summer after high school graduation. The separation, the parents hope, will cool the bond between Katherine and Michael, which it does. Diana is aware that Katherine has much more time ahead of her to become serious with some boy. She wants her daughter to explore more possibilities before making a final decision. Since Diana is also a professional woman, she does not want her daughter to be so focused on a love relationship that she forgets, or loses interesting in, her studies and other activities. In other words, Diana wants her daughter to have more options. Diana is a woman of the world. But when it comes to her daughter, she clamps down a bit, falling back into the influences of the 1950s when silence about certain topics seemed the best practice.
Jamie is Katherine's younger sister. She is everything that Katherine is not. Jamie is very artistic. She creates designs that her family then turns into rugs. She sews artistic patterns on clothes; she paints; and she plays the piano. She is not athletic like her sister, Katherine, but Jamie wishes that she were. She is supportive of her sister and cooks a delicious meal for Katherine and Michael to celebrate their relationship. She has a slight crush on Michael but not in a competitive manner. She merely likes him and wishes he had a younger brother. She is much the admiring younger sister. The author uses Jamie and a few generic younger teenagers to help reflect on Katherine's slightly more mature perceptions of life and love.
Katherine is the protagonist of this story. It is through her perception that the story is told. She is a senior in high school and a virgin when the story opens. She is very rational and must think things through before she acts on them. This habit has protected her from having sex with Tommy Aronson, who was merely interested in her body. Katherine is attracted to Michael as soon as she meets him, although she does not admit it to herself immediately. As the relationship develops, she thinks she wants to have sex with him, but she is a bit frightened by the situation. She keeps pulling back, wanting to sort through her feelings. Eventually she gives in and feels herself falling in love with Michael. She wants to be with him all the time.
Katherine begins to rearrange her life so that she can spend more time with Michael, and she becomes angered when her parents try to thwart her efforts. Her parents insist that she take a job at a summer camp, away from Michael, the summer after her graduation from high school. While at...
(The entire section is 2,270 words.)