Melinda Sordino suffers through her freshman year at Merryweather High School in silence. Her transition from middle school to high school is complicated by a misunderstanding which sends Shockwaves throughout her existence. Gradually, readers become aware that Melinda is spiraling out of control as she becomes mute and loses interest in herself, her family, and school. Abandoned by her friends, she yearns to confide in them. Her voice is presented through a subdued inner monologue which becomes stronger and louder as Melinda struggles to reveal the truth behind her action to call for help at a summer party. Ostracized because her classmates believe she betrayed their trust, Melinda expresses herself through an art project and gardening. She ultimately confronts her antagonist and begins to heal.