Maricela, our newest narrator, is having a rough time. She gives us three reasons why her life is not so easygoing right now:
(1) We learn right off the bat that Maricela is the subject of some racist stereotypes. She's Mexican and worried that people think she's an illegal immigrant.
(2) Our gal Maricela is a teenager, and she figures the entire world is disgusted by teenagers.
(3) Maricela is pregnant. And she's not happy about it.
So when Maricela got pregnant, she dropped out of school and had some fights with her parents.
Then her parents got super excited about the baby, but Maricela never did. You see, she just wants her old life back. She doesn't want to have the baby, but she also doesn't want to have an abortion or give the baby up for adoption.
Here's what Maricela tells us she wants: "I was begging my body to miscarry" (11.2). Yep, Maricela is going through some heavy stuff.
Now Maricela is in a program for pregnant teenagers along with two others from her school. While they're working to get their G.E.D., they also spend time at the community garden. Maricela is not into the whole gardening thing. And she doesn't like Penny, the lady who runs the pregnant teen program and came up with the gardening idea.
One day, a lady comes over to her plot in the garden and guess who it is… Miss Fleck. (To jog your memory about Miss Fleck, the third grade teacher, hop back to Virgil's tale in Chapter 7.) Apparently Maricela had Miss Fleck in third grade, and Miss F has a good memory because she remembers Maricela. They have a pretty awkward chat. But later, Miss Fleck yells at this dude when he litters and it almost hits Maricela.
Besides Miss Fleck, a bunch of gardeners interact with Maricela and her group's garden patch. Some of them are just passing through. Others are kind and give the group veggies. And then there are some gardeners who seriously annoy Maricela because they give her parenting advice.
With all these gardening neighbors, we see some familiar faces:
Familiar Face #1: Maricela mentions a "Puerto Rican kid" who "had these pumpkin plants that kept getting into our own" (11.6). Maricela doesn't know his name, but we know this is Sam's gardening assistant from Chapter 4.
Familiar Face #2: Our gal Maricela tells us that an African-American guy who drives a cab runs through their garden to get to his lettuce. Yep, this is definitely Virgil's dad from Chapter 7.
Familiar Face #3: This time, Maricela gives us her fellow gardener's name: Leona (that resourceful lady from Chapter 5). And Leona gives Maricela none other than some goldenrod from her garden. Actually, Leona and Maricela have a nice relationship. Leona listens to Maricela's complains about being pregnant (she's more than seven months along) and is a pretty supportive gal.
One day, Maricela and Leona have a chat that has a huge impact on Maricela. You see, there's a power outage and this sets the stage for a pretty trippy experience for Maricela. The whole garden is quiet. Leona starts talking about how Maricela is part of nature. And then a dazed Maricela has a revelation: "for just that minute I stopped wishing my baby would die" (11.8).