Americans were wonderful people. She was hesitant at first to answer their
questions, to accept Mik's invitation. But now she was glad she came. Back in
the camps she told herself she would be fine on her own, but now she knew she
had been lying to herself. She missed her sister. (10.13)
There's no doubt about it: Fatima is
independent and strong. But even go-getters like Fatima need friends, and here
she confesses how much she misses her sis back home and wants to hang out with
Mik for the company.
getting complicated. Now she had three friends to worry about. She gave him
half her PBJ. They ate in silence. (24.15)
After Gale gives her the pen, Mik thinks about
the fact that she went from zero to three friends super fast. She
might complain about it here, but we know she was getting lonely before Gale,
Jimmi, and Fatima came into her life. Bonus: Friends come with gifts like a
Shanelle rolled up the sidewalk. "Deaf b**** can't get no real friends,
she stuck with a Zulu terrorist." Shanelle got in Fatima's face. "You
ain't nothin'." (27.31)
Shanelle is certainly mean, but she's not all
together wrong about Mik—she <em>didn't
</em>have any friends before the novel begin. Even NaNa casually
makes fun of her for being lonely. We can't help but wonder if we get this info
to see just how far Mik has come with her new BFFs.
girls were doing it, creating the only thing that mattered— not the mural,
though that was stunning with its flying Liberty. The only thing that mattered
was what had made them paint it. (31.14)
The thing that made them paint it? Friendship.
Jimmi recognizes how unique it is for people to find real friends. He certainly
has a tough time keeping them himself, and he sees the mural as a testament to
the friendship that Fatima and Mik share.
Brother Joe Knows happy, child," Mom said. "Make us happy. Fatima,
this money? It's nothing until you let us put it to this." (32.10)
Fatima can't believe it when Mik's mom wants to
pay for her immigration paperwork, even though it will cost all of her savings
and then some. She's used to making it on her own. Real friends don't need to
be asked to help their buddies out, though.
Liberty we painted on the PD garage? It wasn't that good."
no. "You still haven't figured it out. The bombs can fall and waste us,
but what you two made will last forever." (38.10-11)
Here, Mik can't figure out why Jimmi loves the
mural so much. Check out what he says about bombs and lasting forever. We know
the mural won't last forever, but to Jimmi, the fact that the girls painted it
in the first place—because of their friendship—will endure bombs and then some.
hatred stunned him. He knew these men, their brothers, mothers, sisters,
daughters, helloed them daily in these streets surrounding the hospital. They
were his neighbors, his friends. Why now did they kick him? (38.19)
the peeps who hang around the neighborhood are his friends, but he quickly
learns they are most definitely not. The book gives us portraits of close,
meaningful friendships, and then contrasts these with these fickle ones so we
can appreciate the difference.
have so many friends, Mom. They in the camps will rejoice at my homecoming.
With the sign my sister Mik taught me, they will ask me to lead a new school.
There are many who will be eager to know what I have learned here. This is a
remarkable opportunity for me. I will send you many letters and tell you of my
Fatima lies through her teeth when Mik's mom
says goodbye to her. She wants Mik and her mom to be comforted, and she does
this by painting a picture complete with loads of friends. To Fatima, that's
what happiness looks like, even if it's not the truth.
signed, THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND. (43.6)
Need we say more? Fatima is grateful to have
met Mik and we know the feeling is mutual. It's even more touching that she
signs this instead of speaking it since this way, only Mik gets the message.
Besides, it's the language that Mik taught her when they became friends. Aw.
project Jimmi said we were working on? The most beautiful thing in the world?
He meant friendship. Sister, this is a lovely country. You have peace here. One
needs only a little food, a warm place to sleep and dream, and someone with
whom she can share a laugh. I was most fortunate to know these three beauties.
They will last forever. (43.14)
Mik finally gets it: The mural isn't about the
fabulous paint job the girls did or the Statue of Liberty, although those things
are cool. It's more about the friendship the girls share that will never be
erased. Even though the book ends on a sad note, it reminds us that this is a
real friendship that can continue, long after the book ends.