by Paul Fleischman
Maricela's in kind of a tough spot. She's a young Mexican gal who feels like lots of people judge her based on her race alone. Plus, she worries that everyone disapproves of the fact that she's a pregnant teenager. All this adversity has made our girl quite the pessimist. And we can't blame her; Maricela is definitely dealing with some difficult issues.
But let's look at some of the sunnier parts of her life: she seems to have pretty helpful parents, and she has the support of her group for pregnant teens… even though she hates the director. And the place where Maricela really finds encouragement is not other than the community garden on Gibb Street:
This black woman, Leona, who had a garden and talked to us, came over and gave me some flowers she'd grown. They were yellow. She called 'em goldenrod and she said if I made 'em into tea it would help me with the delivery. She knew I didn't want to be pregnant. I could talk to her about it. (11.7)
Maricela spends a lot of her chapter telling us how she wishes she could have a miscarriage. And until she meets Leona, she doesn't have anyone to talk to about her feelings. So even though Maricela hates tending to plants in the garden, she does get to meet a friend who'll have a pretty positive impact on her life.
By the end of the chapter, Leona's chit chat about nature has Maricela thinking something she's never thought before: "for just that minute I stopped wishing my baby would die" (11.8). Is this a big transformation for Maricela? And do you think it'll stick?