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First Marking Period Summary

Melinda begins high school as an outcast; everyone is angry at her for calling the police during a party over the summer. Nobody, not even Melinda’s ex-best-friend, Rachel, has asked Melinda why she did what she did. At an assembly on the first morning of school, kids taunt Melinda and laugh at her. When Melinda catches Rachel’s eye, Rachel mouths “I hate you” across the room.

Melinda watches her old friends—Ivy, Nicole, and Rachel—join up with new cliques. Inwardly Melinda mocks the little clans the other students form, but it bothers her that she is unwelcome in every group. The only friendly person is Heather, a new girl who is as socially isolated as Melinda is.

Melinda regards everything her teachers say as lies, including their assertions that they are willing to listen and help. In her mind, Melinda mocks the teachers, giving them unkind nicknames like Hairwoman and Mr. Neck. In return, many of the teachers treat Melinda with suspicion.

At lunch on the first day, Melinda realizes she has nowhere to sit. She panics. A kid throws food on her shirt and everyone laughs. Melinda flees the cafeteria and runs into Mr. Neck, who gives her a demerit for wandering the halls. Melinda does not speak up to defend herself. She assumes Mr. Neck would not listen.

Only art class makes Melinda happy. Her teacher, Mr. Freeman, says each student will spend a year making art on a single theme. Melinda likes the project but dislikes her theme, “tree,” which she draws at random. When she tries to get a different theme, Mr. Freeman says she is stuck with the one she has.

Through the first several weeks of school, Melinda’s isolation remains almost complete. She spends her free time napping and putting off homework. She develops the habit of chewing her lips, which end up sore and scabbed. Even at home, she is alone. Her parents communicate with her primarily through notes on the kitchen counter.

Melinda’s old friends Ivy and Nicole make no effort to talk to her. Rachel is actively cruel, and so are many of the older students. Melinda feels harassed by the other kids and by the teachers. One day when Mr. Neck chases after Melinda to talk about a missing piece of homework, she slips into an empty broom closet. Realizing that nobody uses it, she decides to make it her refuge.

Heather, the new girl, becomes Melinda’s friend by default because nobody else will speak to either of them. The two girls have little in common. Heather spends her time working out and building plans to attract more friends. One day Heather convinces Melinda to go to a school pep rally, where a group of strangers recognize Melinda from the party the summer before. The kids gang up on Melinda and abuse her for calling the police. Melinda has worked hard to forget that party. When the other kids bring it up so suddenly, she is overwhelmed by her memories of what happened that night—although she does not name what it was. As the school cheerleaders lead the crowd in a cheer, Melinda buries her face in her hands and screams. Nobody can hear her over the noise of the crowds. Kids pull Melinda’s hair and knock her down.

After the pep rally, nothing seems to go right for...

(The entire section is 857 words.)