Study Guide

Dancing on the Edge

Dancing on the Edge Summary

On the night of a séance trying to contact Miracle's dead mother, her father, Dane, disappears into thin air, leaving only his clothing behind at his desk. Miracle's life hasn't exactly been easy—she was born four and a half months premature after her mother's death and lives with her grandmother, Gigi, who's obsessed with the occult—but things get thrown into full-on turmoil after Gigi declares that Dane has "melted."

Because Dane was a famous child prodigy author whose first book was published when he was thirteen, his disappearance draws a lot of negative attention to Gigi, so she decides they're going to move from their home in Birmingham, Alabama, to Georgia to live with Miracle's grandfather, Grandaddy Opal. This would be cool and everything, except Gigi and Granddaddy Opal kind of got divorced years ago, so living together again is a little bizarre, to say the least.

Still, Miracle and Granddaddy Opal develop a friendship despite Gigi's distaste for the man. When Miracle tells him that her dream is to take dance lessons, he goes behind Gigi's back to make it happen.

Things are pretty good for a while. Granddaddy Opal keeps sneaking Miracle off to dance classes, gets her a bicycle to fix up and ride so she can join him on his paper routes, and he and Gigi even start being civil with each other.

Still, though, it's not enough to make Miracle forget about Dane. She's kind of obsessed with him in a sad, creepy way—she wears his ratty old bathrobe to school and sets up the basement so it looks like Dane's room at their old house. When Granddaddy Opal shows Miracle a book about black holes, she begins to think Dane went back in time to prevent her mother's death, and that one day soon, both of them will come back for her.

On Miracle's thirteenth birthday, her grandparents plan a party and Aunt Casey and Uncle Toole come to Georgia to celebrate. Gigi and Opal's respective new boyfriend and girlfriend, Eugene and Emmaline, also join them. Yay, right? Plus, Miracle is convinced that today will be the day that Dane and her mother return.

When Opal hears that a tornado is coming, though, he herds everyone into the basement for safety… and they discover Miracle's replica of Dane's bedroom. Everyone begins to argue about how weird it is. Things only get more complicated when Emmaline, who's a gospel singer, shatters the conflict by singing "Amazing Grace." Miracle starts dancing, and Gigi immediately realizes that Opal has been secretly taking Miracle to dance lessons and a big fight breaks out.

What happens next isn't pretty. Granddaddy Opal's house is destroyed in the tornado, and to make matters worse, he has a heart attack. At the hospital, it's decided that Granddaddy will move in with Emmaline and Gigi will move in with Eugene. Meanwhile, Miracle will go back to Alabama on her own to live with Aunt Casey and Uncle Toole. Gigi assures Miracle that it's totally temporary and that they'll be back with Granddaddy Opal just as soon as his house gets rebuilt.

Miracle has been at Casey and Toole's house for several months when she gets a letter from Gigi saying that she and Eugene eloped to Greece and now live in Tennessee. Because of this, Casey decides that Miracle will stay on with her and Toole permanently. So much for temporary…

This isn't a great setup for Miracle, mainly because Toole is cheating on Casey, who is too busy pursuing a degree in psychology to spend time with Miracle. In their absence, Miracle tries to get attention from her peers at school by doing love spells for the popular kids. She's also kind of creeped out because this nerdy girl named Juleen is always watching her.

Miracle gets sick and has to stay home from school one day halfway through the school year. Juleen comes to her house and brings her homework, as well as a copy of a poetry book. She tells Miracle that everyone at school knows she's a fake because one of her spells didn't work and tries to explain to her that the kind of magic Gigi does isn't real. Miracle gets really angry, and after Juleen leaves, she sets herself on fire.

Severely burned, Miracle ends up in the psych ward of a hospital, where she begins to see a psychologist named Dr. DeAngelis. She's blocked out portions of the incident and is in therapy in hopes of piecing her life back together. Along with Aunt Casey, they begin talking about what really happened to her mother: She was also a dancer, but her dreams were derailed when she had a whirlwind romance with Dane and got pregnant. While Miracle has been told that her mother's encounter with the ambulance was an accident, it turns out that it was actually suicide.

Now that Miracle knows the truth, the stage is set for her to begin processing her past, building a relationship with Aunt Casey, and living happily ever after—but not so fast. Gigi shows up and kidnaps her from the hospital, and Miracle actually wants to go with her. Terrified and confused by her new knowledge, she'd rather run back into Gigi's fantasy world than face reality. On the car ride to Tennessee, Miracle recalls the portions of her fire incident that she's blocked out and realizes that she has believed Gigi is a fake ever since Juleen's visit.

Gigi ditches Miracle at a bus station, and she calls Aunt Casey to come pick her up. She also learns that Granddaddy Opal is at the hospital to visit her and is doing much better after his heart trouble. Now that she knows the whole truth about her life, Miracle decides to stop letting lies and superstitions determine who she is and resolves to recover and build a new life for herself.

  • Part 1, Chapter 1

    • Miracle McCloy, our narrator, is getting ready for her first séance with her grandmother, Gigi, who is telling her the story of the day she was born for the umpteenth time: While pregnant, her mom was hit by an ambulance and killed, but they were able to rescue the baby. Hey, they don't call her Miracle for nothing.
    • Dane, Miracle's father, seems irritated by the discussion and asks to be excused from the séance preparations. He's a writer who had his first book published when he was a teenager, but has struggled with his work since the death of Miracle's mother. He disappears into his basement room.
    • Toole and Casey, Miracle's aunt and uncle, arrive as she's dancing around the living room to Dane's Bob Dylan tape. Miracle doesn't particularly like her mother's sister and her husband—Casey looks like a Barbie doll and kind of has an attitude, while Toole just plain scares her.
    • Seriously, though, Toole's a mega creep. He likes to hold Miracle upside down until it hurts, and tonight he even tells Gigi that she's too young to be at the séance. Fortunately, Gigi vetoes that call.
    • They get out the Ouija board and Gigi begins the ritual of calling her spirit guide so they can be put in touch with Sissy, Miracle's mother. When Gigi says they've established contact, they get an odd message: According to the Ouija board, there's trouble in the basement—Dane is gone.
  • Chapter 2

    • The séance gang topples over each other to get to Dane's room in the basement. When Miracle opens the door, the room is lit up with glass bottles that have candles in their bottoms (Dane and Miracle light these for some sort of ceremony), and Dane's clothes are in a pile in his chair.
    • As you might expect, everyone is kind of freaking out. Gigi says Dane melted, while Toole gets all up in her face and tells her that's impossible. In a religious ritual, Gigi and Miracle get down on their knees and moan, trying to convince the spirits to bring Dane back.
    • Things get super confusing for Miracle after Dane vanishes, or melts, or whatever. First, Gigi is suspected of killing him, and then the local paper publishes a big story about Gigi practicing black magic. Things gets real when some people come to their house in the middle of the night with a torch and Gigi fires marbles from a slingshot at them.
    • Eventually, Gigi decides they have to leave. The town's on an honest-to-goodness witch-hunt and Miracle is getting teased about it at school—in fairness, it probably doesn't help that she's started wearing Dane's old bathrobe everywhere she goes.
    • Aunt Casey comes over to help them pack. She tells Miracle that Toole has been cheating on her and offers to cut Miracle's hair as a way to cheer them both up. Casey owns a beauty business and cuts hair for a living, as well as making wigs for cancer patients.
  • Chapter 3

    • Aunt Casey cuts Miracle's hair to look like Dane's. Yeah, we know—not exactly the best way to make an impression when you're about to move to a new town. But it was at Miracle's request, so whatever.
    • Miracle remembers how before Dane melted, she used to do her homework in his basement room while he wrote, sometimes listening to the latest installments of his book. We also learn what the ceremony with the candle bottles was: When Dane's writing was going well, he and Miracle would light the candles and talk about the big celebration they'd have when the book was finished.
    • Gigi and Miracle leave and drive to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with Gigi's ex-husband, Granddaddy Opal. Okay, so that's weird, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and nothing screams desperate quite like moving in with your ex-husband.
    • There's a catch, though: She's not allowed to bring her voodoo stuff in the house.
    • Apparently, Gigi and Granddaddy Opal got divorced because of Dane; Dane always claimed that Gigi screwed up his life and that his father should have been the one to raise him, though.
    • Understandably, Miracle has a lot of anxiety about living with Granddaddy Opal—her reservations are only confirmed when he refuses to come out and greet them when they arrive. Also, Miracle and Gigi's room has a television in it, but it's broken, so the disappointments just keep coming.
    • About a week after they arrive, Gigi goes to a job interview and Miracle goes on a hunt for the key to the basement. She wants it because Dane's stuff is stored down there and she wants to set up a corner of the basement to look like his old room.
    • When she finds the key, she gets really excited and trips down the stairs. This is enough to gain Granddaddy Opal's attention and bring him out of hiding to finally greet her—not exactly the best way to meet your estranged grandfather.
    • Things promptly go from bad to worse as Granddaddy Opal tells Miracle that she isn't special, Gigi is a liar, and also that Miracle doesn't even exist because her mom was dead when she was born. Worst of all, Miracle believes him.
  • Chapter 4

    • Granddaddy Opal's words continue to haunt Miracle. It gets so bad that she starts having nightmares, and even Gigi's ritual of hanging orange peels over her bed doesn't take them away—in fact, it seems to make them worse.
    • The other thing getting worse is that Miracle gets teased at school for her short hair and wearing Dane's bathrobe. One afternoon, the kids taunt her from the bus windows and Granddaddy Opal observes it; he asks if this happens all the time and she says yes.
    • Something changes about Granddaddy Opal after this point. He doesn't berate Miracle or tell her she doesn't exist—in fact, he starts being nice to her.
    • Miracle starts to dance around the yard and tells Granddaddy Opal that she wants to take dance lessons, but Gigi won't let her. He decides to go behind his ex-wife's back and find Miracle a teacher.
    • They go to a church the next day to watch dancing lessons with a teacher named Susan and Granddaddy signs Miracle up for four classes. If she's going to be a dance prodigy, she'd best start making up for lost time. They both agree not to tell Gigi about the dance lessons.
  • Chapter 5

    • While Miracle's been getting ready to make her debut as a soon-to-be dance prodigy, Gigi's been busy acting really weird. Like, weirder than usual. In fact, she's being kind of a jerk.
    • Let's back up a little so you can get the picture of what's happened: Gigi got a job working at a gift shop doing her séances and black magic after she contacted the owner's dead husband for her. Since then, she's been really distant and Miracle's hardly seen her; she doesn't even get up in the morning to see Miracle off to school.
    • Miracle has made an effort to become part of Gigi's new life by coming to the gift shop and helping her out—getting her coffee and learning the specific spices and oils that go with different magic rituals. For several months, she serves as Gigi's assistant and the shop owner even speculates that she could someday be a great medium just like Gigi.
    • Things come crashing down one day, though, when Miracle offers to do the spirit dances Gigi sometimes does to contact the dead. Gigi gets angry and tells her she looks ridiculous.
    • To deal with this rejection, Miracle imagines that she's in a peaceful, safe place with Dane. She tells him all about her dance lessons and he tells her that she's really good. She also tells him that not all aspects of dance class are that great—she has trouble remembering the steps and the other students make fun of her. She imagines Dane telling her that he understands and that everything will be fine.
  • Chapter 6

    • Living with Gigi and Granddaddy Opal is kind of like living in the middle of World War III, and when they're not fighting about Dane, they're fighting about Granddaddy's ugly orange recliner or who gets to use the bathroom first. Good times.
    • Still, Granddaddy Opal and Miracle have developed a neat relationship in the midst of all this. Granddaddy doesn't have a car and only gets around using his bicycle—he even has a paper route—and he tells Miracle he's going to get her a bicycle of her own so she can join him.
    • Sure enough, he makes good on this promise and gets Miracle a bike to fix up and paint and make like new. It's hard to find the time to work on it between dance class, school, and helping Gigi in the shop, but she finds the time. One day, Granddaddy even gets her up at three in the morning to work on it.
    • When her twelfth birthday comes along, Granddaddy gets Miracle a helmet for her present and declares her "ready to roll." She names her bicycle Etain, after a woman in an Irish fairytale who gets turned into a butterfly by a jealous witch.
    • Granddaddy Opal and Susan have both encouraged her to take off her bathrobe so she can ride and dance better, but Miracle has trouble doing this. She compromises by wearing just the robe's sash when doing things where she needs to move freely.
    • While watching Miracle ride her bike down the driveway, Granddaddy notices bruises all over her legs. She tells him she got them in her improvisational dance class.
    • It's not a lie, either—Miracle likes to express herself in class by hurling herself all over the room and against walls. Susan's even reprimanded her for it and asked her to please express herself without causing injury.
    • There's no hiding the fact that Granddaddy is really upset over the bruises. He starts to cry and tells Miracle to please do what she has to do in order to not get hurt anymore.
  • Chapter 7

    • Gigi freaks out about Miracle's clothes and tells her she has a green aura when she wears Dane's bathrobe. Apparently, green auras are no good. So Gigi tells Miracle she has to wear purple all the time—the color of the highest spiritual order—until her aura changes back.
    • Miracle decides to obey Gigi and takes off the bathrobe, even though it's really uncomfortable—she feels like she's letting go of a part of herself.
    • Things begin to change for the better after she does this, though. Gigi and Granddaddy Opal are actually getting along for once, and Miracle gets to take over the paper route; she feels like she's at peace for the first time since Dane melted.
    • One day, Gigi and Granddaddy Opal have a spat about the porch floor being so high that Gigi needs a seatbelt to sit in a chair. From this exchange, he gets the idea to paint customized seatbelts for people. Lots of people become his customers and think it's a great business.
    • The one thing that doesn't change, though, is how people react toward Miracle. She's made an effort to change herself, but people still think she's weird—they may like her grandfather, but they don't exactly like her.
    • Granddaddy Opal says she's just different and doesn't want to advertise her identity like the people he paints seatbelts for. He tells her that if he made her one, it would be blank.
  • Chapter 8

    • Gigi joins an organization called The Other Realms, which is a kind of club for people involved with the occult. They talk about seeing into the future and speaking to the dead and stuff like that.
    • Miracle tells us it's the first time Gigi has ever had any friends, mostly because Gigi has always wanted to be mysterious to her clients—they have to think there's something different about her or they won't believe in her powers.
    • Granddaddy isn't exactly thrilled about the group because he says it technically violates their agreement that she won't bring her occult stuff into his house. Whenever they have a fight about it, Miracle and Gigi usually end up in the car driving back to Alabama.
    • It doesn't last, though, and Gigi always comes up with a reason for them to turn around. On one of these occasions, she tells Miracle that the house Granddaddy lives in actually belongs to Dane.
    • Miracle asks Aunt Casey about this when she comes for a visit, and Aunt Casey says that Gigi won't leave because she thinks that when Dane comes home, he'll come to Granddaddy's house.
  • Chapter 9

    • While Granddaddy is off painting seatbelts and Gigi is at her Other Realms meetings, Miracle spends most of her time in the replica of Dane's bedroom she's built in the basement. She lights the candle bottles and asks him questions about where he went and when he's coming back.
    • She usually ends up scaring herself with thoughts about where people go when they melt and whether she actually exists. When this happens, she does her wild dances as a way to take the edge off her thoughts.
    • One day, Granddaddy shows Miracle a book he has about black holes. When Miracle hears the theory that you can travel through time in a black hole, she starts thinking that maybe Dane went back in time when he melted and is planning to prevent her mother's accident so they can all be together.
    • Miracle feels a surge of home from this and begins waiting for the day when Dane and her mother will return.
  • Chapter 10

    • With the arrival of Dane and her mother imminent, Miracle starts making up new interpretive dances that reflect what their new life will be like. She dances all over Gigi's furniture without regard to what she'll think, but still keeps her dance lessons a secret.
    • One afternoon, Gigi introduces Miracle to her new boyfriend, Eugene, a fat guy with messy hair who leers at Miracle in a way that's kind of uncomfortable. Miracle doesn't like him. Big surprise.
    • The person Miracle does like, though, is Granddaddy Opal's new girlfriend, Emmaline. She's a gospel singer with a gigantic, powerful voice. She's also nice, unlike Eugene.
    • Granddaddy Opal and Gigi aren't the only people with new additions to their lives: Miracle has a new hobby of cutting out miracle stories from the newspaper, while Aunt Casey has started taking classes in psychology while Toole is out cheating on her.
    • Miracle's thirteenth birthday arrives and Gigi arranges for everyone to get together for a dinner celebration. Miracle is convinced that today will be the day that Dane and her mother come back from the black hole, so she spends the whole day preparing.
    • The birthday celebration doesn't start out too well because everyone is fighting—Toole is the one mainly starting trouble, though, because he doesn't like Emmaline because she's black (and he's racist), nor does he like that Casey taking college courses.
    • The fighting's just the beginning of Miracle's birthday troubles, though, because Granddaddy Opal announces that there's a tornado warning. Miracle sees the grayish green sky outside and knows it's a sign that Dane and her mother are almost home.
    • Everyone goes down in the basement and their fighting escalates when they see the replica of Dane's bedroom that Miracle set up. They're all fighting about how creepy it is, while Casey explains that Miracle has built a shrine to her father and Eugene says he's getting mysterious vibrations from the candle bottles.
    • Emmaline tries to break the confusion by singing "Amazing Grace." Miracle is so inspired by the words that she begins to dance along with the music.
    • Her cover is blown, and Gigi can tell she's been taking lessons, so she lashes out at Granddaddy Opal (because of course) while Casey tries to calm everyone down. Miracle tries to tell everyone to quiet down so she can feel Dane and her mother coming back. Then, the tornado hits and shakes the house's foundation.
  • Chapter 11

    • When the tornado hits, Emmaline throws herself on Miracle to save her from the impact. Toole curls up in a ball, and he's so traumatized by the storm that when it's over, he runs over to Casey and apologizes for being such a creep.
    • The house is totally demolished, except for the garage and everyone's cars. They start sorting through the rubble, trying to make some sense out of the destruction.
    • Granddaddy Opal calls out that he's found something. When everyone looks, they find him clutching three boxes filled with paper. He says they are Dane's original manuscripts of his novels. Then, as if this whole thing isn't already a fine mess, he has a heart attack.
  • Chapter 12

    • The World's Most Dysfunctional Birthday Party Ever gets moved to the hospital. As they wait for news about Granddaddy Opal, Miracle thinks about how all this is her fault. If she hadn't danced, maybe Dane and her mother would have made it back. Or maybe it wasn't the right time for them to come. Or maybe they're not coming at all.
    • She sits with Emmaline while they wait, who tells her that they have to wait through this hard time and Granddaddy Opal will be all right. Miracle remembers that Dane always used to talk about waiting through hard times.
    • The doctor says Granddaddy Opal is fine and just had a mild heart attack; everyone goes back to visit him. He'll have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, but with his house destroyed by the tornado, he's not sure what happens after that.
    • Emmaline offers to have Granddaddy Opal, Gigi, and Miracle come stay at her house, but Gigi won't have it. After the shenanigans with Miracle's dance lessons, she says they'll either be staying at the gift shop or with her boss; Miracle is afraid they'll end up saying with Eugene.
    • She goes to get Granddaddy Opal a soda and thinks about how nice it would be to live with him and Emmaline in her fine house. When she comes back, though, Aunt Casey informs Miracle that she'll be living with her and Uncle Toole. Ugh.
  • Chapter 13

    • Miracle says goodbye to Gigi and Granddaddy Opal and moves back to Alabama to live with Uncle Toole and Aunt Casey. Their house is a wreck, just like it was the last time Miracle was there—the only difference is that the table has been cleared off to give Casey room to do her psychology homework.
    • Casey and Toole put Miracle in Casey's wig room, where she fits wigs for cancer patients. Miracle doesn't like sleeping there because she feels like all the eyeless wig heads are staring at her, but since living with Casey and Toole is supposed to be temporary, she decides she can handle it.
    • School isn't going well for Miracle. She gets in trouble because she erases her name off the board after her teacher puts it up for group creative writing projects. Her teacher is also frustrated with her because she is peculiar and doesn't follow directions.
    • Meanwhile, Toole and Casey are fighting because Toole wants to have a baby. He says that surviving the tornado made things really clear for him on this matter and that Casey isn't normal because she doesn't want one. Casey thinks he just wants something to tie her to the house, though, so he can go running around.
    • Casey's right—he is super restless—and she says he has attention deficit disorder and needs medication, though in fairness, she's pretty eager to try out her new psychology knowledge and diagnose people.
    • Casey tries to tell Miracle that Gigi isn't there and she doesn't need to wear purple anymore, but Miracle refuses to change her color scheme. She decides to give herself extra strength by wearing both purple and Dane's robe. Call her Super Miracle.
  • Chapter 14

    • Gigi surprises everyone by eloping to Greece with Eugene, who, as it turns out, is extremely wealthy. She writes Miracle a letter telling her about the wedding and a sanctuary they visited dedicated to a Greek healing god; she says she's sent Miracle something special in the mail.
    • Aunt Casey tells Miracle that they need to have a talk. With Gigi married, she'll be living in Tennessee with Eugene and there are so many problems with Granddaddy Opal's house insurance following the tornado that she and Toole have decided Miracle will live with them permanently.
    • Toole's moving business is booming and Casey has decided to go for a degree in psychology instead of just taking classes. As a result, Miracle is by herself most of the time. She dances and imagines that Dane and her mother are living in a parallel universe and that's why they haven't come back.
    • Miracle talks to Granddaddy Opal on the phone sometimes, but he sounds distracted and almost upset to be talking to her. As a result, she feels totally alone.
    • Gigi's package arrives at the end of the summer. It's a purple shawl and a book about love potions. Miracle decides to wear the shawl to school.
    • When some popular girls take an interest in it, she says that she has a supernatural gift passed through the women in her family and uses the shawl to do love ceremonies. She makes up an elaborate story about the rules and rituals of these ceremonies. Some girls make fun of her, but others seem genuinely interested.
    • At the end of the day, climbs on her bike to leave and sees a girl standing under a tree watching her. She gets the same feeling being stared at by her as she does from the wig heads at home. Creepy.
  • Chapter 15

    • Miracle comes home, and immediately regrets telling the girls at school about her alleged love spells. To make things worse, the wig heads are interrogating her and asking what she knows about love. She tells them she knows more than they think because she knows the truth: Love doesn't exist.
    • She thinks that if anything proves the fact that love doesn't exist, it's Toole and Casey since they are fighting all the time. Toole says that Casey isn't the same woman he married since she started taking college classes and has changed too much, while she says Toole is stuck in the mind of a teenager and hasn't changed enough.
    • At school the next day, the popular girls approach Miracle about doing a love spell for them. They go under the bleachers of the track at school and Miracle makes up a ritual and magic words for casting a love spell to make a girl named Cara's crush fall in love with her.
    • Miracle knows this whole thing is dishonest, but doesn't care—for the first time, people aren't making fun of her or laughing or staring.
  • Chapter 16

    • Amazingly enough, Miracle's spell works and Cara's crush asks her to a dance. After that, she's majorly in business with all the girls at school—they all want her to do spells for them, too, so she makes them do whatever she tells them and pay her with candle bottles.
    • At first, things are going just fine with Miracle's spell business, but then she realizes that no one talks to her unless it's about spells. No one invites her to go anywhere, either, and it dawns on Miracle that she actually has no friends at all. People are just using her. Bummer.
    • To make things worse, Juleen Presque, the girl who was watching Miracle after school that first day, is practically stalking her. She's always staring at her and observing her spells. Miracle knows that Juleen knows the truth—that she's made it all up—and this just makes her more uncomfortable.
    • One day in the middle of the school year, Miracle gets sick and has to miss school. Aunt Casey makes her toast and tea and Miracle learns that Aunt Casey has actually lived in her house since she was a child—with Miracle's mother. In fact, Miracle's bedroom was their old room.
    • After Aunt Casey goes to work at her beauty shop, Miracle gets a surprise visitor: Juleen, who's arrived with her homework and a book of poetry she says Miracle will like. They sit up in Miracle's room and Juleen tells her some bad news: Everyone knows her spells are fake.
    • Here's what went down: Miracle told a girl named Melanie to dye her hair purple so her crush would notice her. Unfortunately, the dye made her hair fall out and her crush told her to go join the circus. Oops. Busted.
    • Juleen tells Miracle that she's always known she was a fake because her aunt used to contact the dead—until her powers were also proven to be fake and the family was disgraced. Miracle tries to defend Gigi by saying that her powers were real, but Juleen doesn't buy it. She says that magic is only real because people see what they want to see.
  • Chapter 17

    • After Juleen leaves, Miracle kind of freaks out. She starts talking to the wig heads, arguing with them and herself, saying that Gigi's powers are actually real. Then, she decides to prove it to everyone.
    • She takes all her candle bottles out to the garage and lights them, then stands in the middle of them all, moving closer to the flames.
  • Part 2, Chapter 18

    • Miracle spends several days in a hospital, but doesn't remember how she got there; her legs are all burned and the nurses think seeing the wounds is preventing her from healing as quickly as she should. Miracle has skin-graft surgery to repair some of the worse burns.
    • Gigi comes to visit and tries to convince the doctors that if Miracle comes with her, she'll heal faster; Miracle pretends to be asleep so she doesn't have to deal with her.
    • Aunt Casey comes at least three times a day, which is more than Miracle has seen her pretty much her whole life. She tries to talk to Miracle, but Miracle has decided to stop speaking.
    • One day, Miss Emmaline comes to visit and tells her that Granddaddy Opal couldn't come visit because he's sick, but he can't wait to see her. Miracle overhears her telling Casey out in the hallway that he is in the hospital for the third time that month after having bypass surgery that wasn't as successful as they hoped it would be.
    • Miracle decides that needing people drives them away from her, so she decides to not need Granddaddy Opal anymore.
    • Later, a man named Dr. DeAngelis comes to visit her. He tells her that he's a psychologist Casey met through one of her lectures and that he wants to help her deal with the internal wounds that can't heal the same way her legs can.
    • Dr. DeAngelis tells her that she's going to be transferred to a special hospital called The Cedars, where she'll go to therapy with him and have group sessions with other teenagers who have similar problems. He tells her that talking about her troubles and finding community will help her heal her emotional scars.
    • Dr. DeAngelis can tell Miracle is scared about this, but reassures her that everything will be all right.
  • Chapter 19

    • Aunt Casey tries to explain more about going to The Cedars and talking to Dr. DeAngelis. She says the family has too many secrets and problems and they need help sorting them out, and getting help for Miracle is what will allow this to happen.
    • The next day, Miracle is being moved to a new wing of the hospital when Gigi shows up and tells her it's time to go home, plans have changed. She is pushing Miracle out of the hospital in a wheelchair when Aunt Casey catches them and demands to know what's going on.
    • Gigi tells Casey that Miracle will recover faster if she's home with Gigi, but Casey can see through it. She knows that Gigi is too afraid of Miracle learning "the truth." Since we're in Miracle's point of view, we don't really know what "the truth" is, but one thing's for sure: We wouldn't be surprised if there was more to this family than what we're seeing.
    • Aunt Casey and Gigi have a fight about how Casey is going to be able to pay for the hospital stay and for Miracle's care. Finally standing up for herself, Aunt Casey says her health insurance from her beauty salon can cover it and that Miracle deserves a chance to recover. Go Aunt Casey.
    • Gigi leaves in a huff and Dr. DeAngelis shows up to help them move Miracle.
  • Chapter 20

    • Miracle's fellow patients call the yellow unit the "psycho ward." It definitely has a lot of strange rules—for instance, Miracle has to sleep in the day room under observation for her first two days, and they have a system where you can gain or lose points to earn privileges.
    • Miracle has her first session with Dr. DeAngelis during her second day on the unit. To her surprise and discomfort, Dr. DeAngelis has already spoken to Gigi, Toole, Casey, and Emmaline, and knows a lot about her from these conversations.
    • He doesn't, however, know as much as he'd like. Surprisingly, her family members know very little about her interests, passions, and favorite things. He also reviews the journey Miracle's been through since Dane disappeared: moving to Granddaddy Opal's, the tornado and heart attack (plus a second, nearly fatal heart attack we are just now learning about), and moving to Alabama with Aunt Casey. Wow. Miracle really has been through a lot.
    • Dr. DeAngelis says he thinks Miracle has gotten a pretty bad deal and that he's extremely upset. Miracle looks at him and can tell he really is angry.
  • Chapter 21

    • The yellow unit isn't exactly the greatest environment for Miracle. Everyone likes to talk about the ways they hurt themselves, and some of her fellow patients even think taking drugs and cutting themselves are the best ways to deal with depression. They also make fun of Miracle because she won't talk about how she set herself on fire.
    • Miracle also spends a lot of time watching television—she's never had a TV before, and she finds the programs fascinating.
    • At her next appointment with Dr. DeAngelis, he tells her they're going to trade seats for the day. Miracle looks at the photos on his desk and sees that he has a wife and children.
    • Dr. DeAngelis asks her to draw a portrait of him. At first, Miracle is scared to because she's had art teachers criticize her drawings in the past for being disturbing, but finally, she gives in and does the assignment. Dr. DeAngelis says it's exactly what he wanted.
    • Aunt Casey brought Miracle the books Juleen brought to their house, and Miracle decides to read the poetry book. She reads the poem "I Am Nobody" by Emily Dickinson and cries out loud, feeling that for the first time, she can see her own reflection.
  • Chapter 22

    • The nurses come to Miracle's room to find out why she's screaming, but she won't stop, so they call Dr. DeAngelis in, who tells her that she can either go to the nurse's station to be watched or come with him to his office. She agrees to go with him. Apparently, something about the poem finally has made her able to talk again.
    • Dr. DeAngelis tries to talk to her about why she screamed, but Miracle only keeps quoting the Emily Dickinson poem in response. Dr. DeAngelis can tell she relates to it and tries to get her to open up about her feelings, especially what caused her to set herself on fire.
    • Miracle, however, still doesn't remember the accident, and isn't open to talking about it. She says she is afraid of the things that are out there in the dark and doesn't want to see them.
  • Chapter 23

    • After Miracle talks with Dr. DeAngelis, the nurse gives her a sleeping pill. It's her first time sleeping through the night since she moved in with Casey and Toole, but she doesn't like it—she's scared the things that are after her are waiting for her to go to sleep.
    • Aunt Casey comes to visit. Miracle has earned enough points to go for a walk around the grounds with her, and Aunt Casey brings root beer and three kinds of sandwiches, since she has no idea what kind Miracle likes best. For the record, the way to our hearts is paved with three kinds of sandwiches.
    • Miracle still won't talk to her, but Casey understands. She tells Miracle that she's ashamed of how she ignored her problems when Miracle lived with them—although she was taking psychology classes, she couldn't see Miracle's problems, or maybe she just didn't want to.
    • She also tells Miracle that Toole left her to go live in Kentucky with the woman he was having an affair with and that he plans to start his own business. Casey gives it two months before Toole gets bored and moves on to the next thing.
    • Aunt Casey tells Miracle that they're going to have a session together with Dr. DeAngelis. She says she's taking a parenting class where they prescribe specific phrases you're supposed to use to assertively deal with children. The textbook, though, doesn't help in her relationship with Miracle; she wants to know what to do when someone won't talk to you.
  • Chapter 24

    • Miracle and Casey go to therapy with Dr. DeAngelis. Casey tries to get Miracle to sit on the sofa with her, but Miracle refuses because she can't tell what color it is. This gives them an opening to talk about Gigi and the knowledge of colors she forced on Miracle.
    • They also talk about Miracle's fear of the wig heads and Dr. DeAngelis gets some information out of her about why she was so afraid of them. To Miracle, they didn't have faces or identities and were dead—which is exactly how she feels.
    • Out of nowhere, Miracle remembers what Granddaddy Opal said to her at his house about how if her mother was dead when she was born, then she never existed. Casey begins to cry, knowing she's talking about the accident.
    • Casey revisits the account of the accident with Dr. DeAngelis, who suggests that it's possible that Miracle's mother actually walked out in front of the ambulance on purpose. Casey refuses to consider this, but Dr. DeAngelis says that sometimes, suicide runs in families as a natural response to depression.
    • Aunt Casey tells him that she and Gigi made a pact that they would make Miracle's birth into something good rather than focus on the bad of her mother's death. Dr. DeAngelis says that sometimes, the thing you try to keep from children is the thing they end up doing.
  • Chapter 25

    • Not surprisingly, Miracle doesn't take the possibility that her mother committed suicide very well—she leaves the appointment freaking out and the nurses give her more pills to take.
    • Miracle asks the night nurse if she can stay in the nurse's station for the night rather than sleep in her room because she doesn't want to be in the dark. She shows her the book of Emily Dickinson poems and says she promises to read and be quiet.
    • Miracle feels like Emily Dickinson is speaking directly to her. She feels safe reading her poems, and it brings to mind the feeling she got dancing to Emmaline singing "Amazing Grace" during the tornado. Eventually, she falls asleep.
    • She wakes up in her own bed the next morning and feels her legs the way she does every day, touching her burns. A memory of doing her wild dances at Gigi's comes to mind, and she wonders if there will ever be a time when she doesn't have scars.
  • Chapter 26

    • Miracle goes to the surgery wing of the hospital to get her legs looked at, and the doctor declares that they are healing well enough that she doesn't need to wear thick bandages on them anymore. She wears shorts for the first time since the accident and even gets up the courage to stand up to a girl in group therapy who makes fun of them.
    • At her next session with Dr. DeAngelis and Casey, Dr. DeAngelis explains that they're going to play a game called "I Recall." She and Casey will take turns sharing memories, allowing the memories they pick to be triggered by what the other person says.
    • At first, Miracle suspects that they are trying to direct the game toward her accident—Casey shares a memory of Toole setting off firecrackers and getting stitches—but then the conversation gets directed toward Miracle's dancing, and before she knows it, Casey is telling her about her mother.
    • Just like Miracle, Sissy loved to dance. She saw a dance program at her school and came home wanting to take ballet lessons. Dance was her passion for the rest of her life, and she spent her time performing and attending lessons.
    • When she was sixteen, Sissy and Casey's parents were killed in a plane crash. The sisters used some of the insurance money to send Sissy to a dance program at the beach. As it turned out, it was the same beach where Gigi was living with Dane, forcing him to become a prodigy novelist.
    • At the mention of Dane, Miracle begins to become agitated and begs Dr. DeAngelis to stop the game, but he tells her that she needs to move out of the dark so she can be in the light that comes after it. Miracle begins putting the pieces together. She realizes that she had to keep her dance lessons a secret because Gigi didn't want her to dance—because of Sissy.
    • Casey returns to the story. While at the dance camp, Sissy had a relationship with Dane and got pregnant. It was four months, though, before she noticed something was different because she still looked the same. When she started to get sick and lack energy in the morning, though, Casey took her to the doctor, who told them she was going to have a baby.
    • Sissy had planned on going to New York to become a professional dancer, but having a baby would ruin her dream. Things only got worse when Casey found out who the father was and called him and Gigi—Gigi invited Sissy to live with her and Dane, but forbade her to dance.
    • Sissy told Casey that she'd made a decision: She was going to have the baby and leave it with Gigi, then go to New York and pursue dance. Casey tried to tell her that she needed to think of someone other than herself, the way her parents had made sacrifices so she could go to dancing school, but Sissy said that if she couldn't dance, all their sacrifices would be for nothing.
    • Casey is quiet for a long time. Then, she says that she was afraid the baby would grow up without a mother—which is exactly what happened.
    • Dr. DeAngelis tells Miracle that she knows the rest of the story, and should tell them what happened next.
  • Chapter 27

    • Sitting quietly in the office, Miracle fills in the blanks. She realizes that she has always known the truth about what happened to her mother—the events she imagined in her mind and the version Gigi told never matched up. Seriously—why else would someone just walk out in front of an ambulance?
    • Dr. DeAngelis says that Miracle's family may not have verbally told her the truth, but they did tell her with their actions, even with the things they didn't say. He tells Miracle they will talk together about this again, and gives her a notebook to write down her memories.
    • When Aunt Casey and Miracle leave his office, Casey tells her that she's been plagued with guilt ever since Sissy died. She felt like her suicide was her fault, and wanted so badly to know otherwise that she went to Gigi's séances to try to talk to her. Seeing Miracle used to torture her—she could tell from the time she was three that she had Sissy's body and was going to be a dancer.
    • Casey tells her that she now knows that Miracle isn't a punishment. Instead, she's an opportunity to love her sister's child and make something good out of the tragedy. She tells Miracle that she wants her in her life, but Miracle says that she doesn't want Casey, and runs to her room.
  • Chapter 28

    • In their therapy sessions, Dr. DeAngelis and Miracle continue to process the truth about Sissy's death. They tell the story over and over, the way Gigi used to, except they tell it the way it actually happened. Casey comes to the sessions even though Miracle doesn't want to see her. For her part, Casey says she refuses to give up on her.
    • As she talks about Sissy, Miracle realizes that what she really wants is to see Gigi. She feels like she has something she needs to tell her, but doesn't know what it is—she just wants to be with her, and feels that if she could do that, she'd feel safe again.
    • Dr. DeAngelis continues trying to get Miracle to talk about Dane, but she refuses to believe anything other than the story about him melting. She gets angry and outraged whenever Dr. DeAngelis brings him up.
    • Miracle even has a dream about Gigi. She dreams that Gigi is beckoning her to follow her, but ultimately leads her into a black darkness where Miracle isn't even sure she's there.
    • Then, one day, Gigi comes to visit. They go for a walk outside toward Gigi's van. Miracle thinks that Gigi is leaving already, but she says that Miracle has earned enough points that she can go on a trip with Gigi for the day.
    • Gigi begins to drive north and Miracle knows they are going to Tennessee. She tells Miracle that she is now an expert in healing powers because she was a healer in her past lives, so if Miracle comes home with her, she will be Gigi's first miracle cure. She says she's going to make the burns melt away. Oops—bad choice of words.
    • Miracle keeps telling Gigi that she believes in her, but the memories coming to her mind are telling her otherwise. She realizes for the first time that Gigi is really a phony and that she stopped believing in her the day Juleen told her so.
    • And then she remembers what happened the day she set herself on fire: She did it to prove not only that she was real, but that Gigi was, too—if Miracle melted, it would have to mean that Dane did, too. In the moment when the flames licked her legs, she believed that Gigi was a fake and that Dane hadn't melted.
    • She then confronts Gigi about her years of lies, and about reducing her mother from a dancer named Sissy to "the body of a dead woman." Miracle tells Gigi that she doesn't believe any of her magic anymore and asks for the truth about where Dane is. Gigi, however, continues to tell her that he melted.
    • Miracle lifts up her pant leg and shows Gigi her scars. She tells her that people don't melt—they just burn.
  • Chapter 29

    • Gigi refuses to look at the burns. Instead, she just keeps saying that Dane melted, as though pleading with Miracle to stay in her fantasy world with her. Miracle, however, can't do it. In the time she's been in the car with Gigi, she's remembered too much of the truth to keeping believing lies.
    • Specifically, Miracle realizes for the first time that she doesn't need Dane or Sissy to define who she is. In the past, she's felt like she needed her father so she could feel safe and know she was real, but now she knows she exists on her own without him.
    • There is a ton going on in Miracle's head, but being with Gigi is suppressing her thoughts. She knows she needs to get back to Dr. DeAngelis and Casey so they can help her work through them, so she asks Gigi to take her back to The Cedars—but Gigi refuses.
    • Miracle continues to demand that Gigi take her back, and then she realizes that this was what it must have been like for Dane when she forced him to go to the beach house and write. She confronts Gigi about this, saying that Dane never wanted to write; he wanted to be with Granddaddy Opal, building things and doing art projects.
    • Gigi still has no interest in hearing the truth, but Miracle won't stop assaulting her with it. She says that when she's with Casey and the staff at The Cedars, she's growing into becoming someone, but with Gigi, she'll always be nobody—just like how Dane felt.
    • Finally, Gigi pulls into a bus station and kicks Miracle out of the car. She says that she can go back to the hospital on her own and that Miracle is no good to her—Dr. DeAngelis has ruined her and she won't work for Gigi's healing methods.
  • Chapter 30

    • Miracle sits down on a bench to wait for her bus. She's people-watching and enjoying the freedom of being cut loose from Gigi's prison, when she realizes that she doesn't have any money—Gigi let her off at the bus station without any money to go anywhere. Figures.
    • Miracle goes to the ticket counter and explains her situation. The woman at the counter says she has a daughter her age and would want someone to help her if she ran away, so she lets Miracle call Aunt Casey and then tells her how to get to the station.
    • Someone else is on the line who wants to talk to Miracle—Granddaddy Opal. He says that he's doing much better and is excited to see her.
    • As Miracle waits for Aunt Casey, she makes a decision: No more purple, and no more rules. From now on, she'll be who she wants to be, not who Gigi has taught her to be.
    • She thinks about how she told the wig heads that she didn't believe in love. Now, though, she's starting to rethink that. She thinks that maybe love is something you feel, the same way she feels something from reading poetry, dancing, listening to music, and having people do kind things for her. She thinks that with Granddaddy Opal and Aunt Casey's help, she can finally learn what love really is. Yay.