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....

(The entire section is 857 words.)