There are two protagonists in Creech's story. The first, Salmanaca ("Sal") has a sense of bravery that her classmates do not posses: "I was not afraid of spiders, snakes and wasps. Pheobe, and nearly everyone else inmy new class, did not have much of a fondness for these creatures." Sal catches a spider at her desk and "all around the room, people were acting as if I had singlehandedly taken on a fire-breathing dragon." She continues, "What I have since realized is that if people expect you to be brave, sometimes you pretend that you are, even when you are frightened down to your very bones."
Sal's bravery will be an asset to her as she must learn to live without her mother in a new town, a new school, and ultimately, find out what really happened to her mother.