Second Marking Period Summary

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During the second school term, Melinda spends most of her time in her broom closet hideout. She covers the mirror with a poster of Maya Angelou so she will not have to look at herself. She brings in her drawings of trees to decorate the walls.

When she is outside this refuge, she hardly talks to anyone. Her throat is sore from lack of use, and her lips are sore from her biting habit. When she is alone with Heather, Melinda occasionally finds her voice and speaks a little. Around adults, however, she only stammers and fails to communicate. In her classes, Melinda makes little effort.

One day in social studies, Melinda doodles trees during a debate about immigration. The teacher, Mr. Neck, says the borders of the United States should have been closed to new immigrants in the year 1900. A student, David Petrakis, protests against the xenophobic tone of the lecture. When Mr. Neck tells David to sit down or go to the principal, David remains standing silently. Melinda is surprised at how much this boy can say with his silence.

Thanksgiving goes poorly for Melinda. She watches silently while her mother, swamped with work, tries and fails to cook a traditional dinner between frantic phone calls. Melinda’s father thinks he can do better, but he turns the turkey into an inedible goo. He buries the bird in the back yard next to the family’s dead beagle.

Afterward, Melinda digs up the turkey’s bones and brings them to art class. Mr. Freeman is thrilled. He gives Melinda permission to skip Spanish and work on art made from the turkey bones. Ivy, one of Melinda’s former friends, asks permission to stay too. Although Melinda is heartened when Ivy acts friendly, she misses her chance to start a conversation. Instead, Melinda arranges her turkey bones with the head of a Barbie doll, making a creepy piece of art. “This has meaning,” Mr. Freeman says, “Pain.” Melinda does not stay to talk about this. Instead, she flees to her next class.

In social studies, David Petrakis sets up a tape recorder. Melinda finds out why when she overhears a secretary saying that David’s parents have hired a lawyer. The tape recorder and later a video camera are allowed in class to record “potential future violations” of students’ civil rights. Melinda privately decides David is her hero.

At home one afternoon, Melinda sets up the Christmas tree alone. She reflects that she must be a disappointment to her parents. She wishes the family could split up and she could go on with life alone. Feeling depressed, she decides to improve things by trying to act like Heather. Melinda makes snow angels and decorates the house, but it still does not feel like a celebration.

On Christmas morning, Melinda’s parents give her several gifts, including some art supplies. Surprised and touched that her parents have noticed her interest in art, Melinda begins to cry. She considers telling them the truth about the night of the party, but she cannot get herself to start. Her parents do not seem to know how to react to her tears. They wait a while, and then they leave the room. After they are gone, Melinda realizes she did not even thank them.

When school starts again, Melinda discovers she is an excellent shot at basketball. The gym teacher is excited until she learns that Melinda’s GPA is too low for her to play on the team. Melinda does not want to play anyway, but she does not say so. The teachers ask her to teach one of the star boy players to shoot foul shots. Melinda cannot make herself speak up to refuse. She resolves not to show up.

Melinda has less luck brushing off Heather, who wants help making posters for a canned food drive. The Marthas have assigned Heather this project on purpose because they want to embarrass her; they know she will not do it well. Heather begs for Melinda’s help and assumes the answer is yes when Melinda remains silent.

When Melinda’s biology class is assigned a dissection project, Melinda looks at the frog pinned to her table and has a flashback to the night of the party. She passes out and hits her head, and she ends up in the hospital for stitches. As she sits in the doctor’s office, she reflects that her refusal to speak has not helped her suppress her experiences.

Melinda makes Heather’s food drive posters and agrees to hang them while Heather goes to a modeling job. Melinda thinks that it might do her reputation some good if she is seen doing something positive. While she works, however, the boy she calls IT sneaks up behind her. He whispers in her ear: “Freshmeat.” Melinda runs away.

Melinda’s grades are even worse in the second marking period than they were in the first. Her parents yell at her, but she says nothing in her own defense, sure they would not listen. Melinda is grounded. She scratches her wrist with a paper clip. Her mom sees the wound and says suicide is for cowards.

At lunch one afternoon, Melinda listens to the Marthas bully Heather about the canned food drive. One of them, Emily, calls Melinda’s posters ridiculous. Heather does not defend them. Emily begins talking about a boy she likes, Andy Evans. Melinda sees the boy and realizes Andy is IT. When Andy stops by to chat, Melinda freezes up. Andy twirls her ponytail in his fingers, and Melinda flees to the bathroom, where she throws up.

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