by Paul Fleischman
Break out the tissues, because Wendell's story is rough: his wife was killed in a car crash and his son was shot. But he doesn't let this stop him from living.
This older, white gent (3.2)—who now works as a janitor—grew up in Kentucky and learned all about farming, which actually makes him one of the most knowledgeable gardeners in the book. And he starts to realize that he can make a difference in the world just by growing some plants in the community garden. We might even go so far as to call Wendell an optimist:
There's plenty about my life I can't change. Can't bring the dead back to life on this earth. Can't make the world loving and kind. Can't change myself into a millionaire. But a patch of ground in this trashy lot—I can change that. Can change it big. (3.13)
Wendell's life has been tough, but he sure does find a silver lining. He isn't losing sight of what's realistic, but finds a way to make the world a better place. Does this dreamer spirit remind you of anyone else in the book?