First Marking Period
Meet Melinda, our narrator. She's riding the bus to her first day of high school. It's bad. Her old friends won't talk to her, much less sit with her on the bus. The school assembly is worse. Kids are laughing at her. Rachel is with them. Melinda wishes she could tell Rachel, especially Rachel, her secret. Melinda reads Rachel's lips saying "I hate you" (1.11). She wants to cry.
The narrator misses biology class because she can't find it. English class is taught by a woman with "no face" (2.1) whom Melinda calls Hairwoman. Social Studies class is taught by a teacher Melinda calls Mr. Neck. Lunch is bad. The problem of having nobody to sit with is solved when a guy called Basketball Pole hits Melinda with mashed potatoes, causing her to flee. Mr. Neck stops her, and since she can't tell him why she's leaving, she gets in trouble.
Next stop: Art class. Much better. Another old friend, Ivy, is here, but she and Melinda don't make eye contact. Mr. Freeman, the art teacher, says that they are in "the only class that will teach [them] how to survive" (4.3). Everybody pulls slips of paper from a broken globe Mr. Freeman passes around. Whatever is on the paper is what they'll be working on for the year. Melinda's paper says "tree."
School has been in session for two weeks and Melinda has been eating lunch with a girl named Heather and occasionally visiting Heather's home. Heather talks a lot, and Melinda says little. Today Melinda is home after school ordering pizza, since Mom is at work at Effert's, a clothing store. When she hears Dad come home, she slips off to her room. In the mirror across from her bed, she sees she's not looking so good. Her lips are bitten – she can't help biting them – and her mouth doesn't seem like her mouth any more. She puts the mirror in the closet.
Melinda has gym with Heather and Nicole. Nicole used to be in her "clan," the Plain Janes, along with Rachel and Ivy. It's not clear whether Nicole is mad at Melinda, or just too absorbed in her own life to talk to her. One day, Melinda encounters Rachel in the bathroom and tries to talk to her. Rachel, who is calling herself Rachelle, just brushes her off, leaving with a foreign exchange student Melinda calls Greta-Ingrid.
On another day, Melinda is running from Mr. Neck, and she happens on a janitor's closet that hasn't been used in a long time. Perfect hiding place. Sometime after, Heather talks Melinda into going to a pep rally. Some girls recognize her as Melinda Sordino, the girl who called the cops at Kyle Rodgers end-of-the-summer party. She gets poked, kneed, hair-pulled, and pushed down the bleachers before it's all over.
At dinner one night, Mom and Dad get on Melinda's case because they've seen her progress reports, and she can do better. They fight when Melinda leaves the table. Melinda decides to try. She's focusing in science class. Her teacher, Ms. Keen, is pretty brilliant. So is Melinda's lab partner, David Petrakis. Mr. Stetman, Melinda's algebra teacher, is also very smart, but he can't seem to convince the class of why they need algebra.
Heather joins the Marthas, a group dedicated to charity and decorating. The Marthas – Meg, Emily, and Siobhan – make Heather decorate the faculty lounge for Thanksgiving. Heather convinces Melinda to help her. When Siobhan and Emily come into the lounge to check it out, they aren't pleased to see Melinda. Heather says Melinda is the first person at school to talk to her. Siobhan says, "She's creepy. What's wrong with her lips? She looks like she's got a disease or something" (21.19). Melinda escapes to the bathroom, crying. She tries to wash away her facial features.
Sometime after this, Melinda sees a guy she calls "IT." IT is giving Melinda the smile and the wink. Melinda would vomit, except her "lips are sewn together" (22.2). The first section ends with Melinda's report card. She gets an A in Art, a B in Biology, a C and a D in Lunch and Clothes, and Cs in most everything else.
Second Marking Period
When Mom and Dad see Melinda's report card, they demand that she stay after school for tutoring. She does stay after school, but she tutors herself inside the supply closet she's made her own. Over the mirror, she tapes up a poster of writer Maya Angelou.
Melinda's been having trouble talking lately. She really, really wants to tell her secret, "to hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to somebody else" (24.4). But that won't get rid of the horrible memory. Better she stays in the closet and keeps the awful thing to herself.
One day, Mr. Neck comes to social studies class mad because his son didn't get a job as a firefighter. He blames immigrants and says the US government should have stopped all immigration in 1900. When students challenge him, he shuts down the debate. David Petrakis, Melinda's lab partner, stands up and says, "The Constitution does not recognize different classes of citizenship based on time spent living in the country. […] As a student, I am protesting the tone of this lesson as racist, intolerant and xenophobic" (27.22). (In case you don't know, "xenophobia" is "an unreasonable fear of foreigners.") Then he leaves class.
Thanksgiving is something of a disaster. Mom is really busy at Effert's and she forgets to thaw the turkey. Dad tries to make turkey soup, but they end up ordering pizza. To honor the turkey's sacrifices, Melinda takes its bones to art class. She arranges the bones on a block of wood, like a dinosaur in a museum. Mr. Freeman and Ivy love it.
David's family hires a lawyer and might sue Mr. Neck and the school district. Now, Mr. Neck's classes are videotaped. David is Melinda's "hero" (31.7). As Christmas nears Heather gives Melinda some earrings, and Melinda gives Heather a friendship necklace. Mom and Dad give Melinda charcoal pencils and a sketch pad for Christmas. She's incredibly touched that they've noticed her drawing – but she can't get her voice to thank them.
It's snowy now, so P.E. is held in the gym. They play basketball. Melinda surprises everybody and herself by scoring foul shot after foul shot. Ms. Connors and the basketball coach ask Melinda to tutor the boy's team. She nods yes, but doesn't have any intention of doing it.
Meanwhile, Heather is in charge of making posters for the Marthas, but she doesn't have time. She gets Melinda to agree make them for her. In lab class, Melinda and David are dissecting a frog when Melinda flashes back to her secret, imagining having dirt in her hair. Then she faints. Her plan was to make herself forget by not talking about what happened to her. But she just can't forget.
Melinda works on the posters for the Marthas. She's kind of happy to be doing something nice. Melinda is hanging a poster outside the metal shop room when IT sneaks up behind her and says "Freshmeat" (42.3) in her ear. Of all the girls in school, IT is after her, again. His smell makes her nauseas; she panics, drops the tape and the poster, and runs. Now she knows that IT remembers what he did to her.
Soon Melinda has another run in with IT, who we learn is named Andy Evans. He flirts with the Marthas at lunch, and Melinda is sitting near them. He's been talking to Emily on the phone. Emily doesn't believe the rumors that he's a dangerous guy. He touches Melinda's hair. Melinda runs to the bathroom and vomits. Heather doesn't come to check on her.
This section ends with Melinda's report card. She gets Ds in Attitude and Social Studies, an A in Art, a B in Biology and Cs in everything else.
Third Marking Period
Melinda starts skipping school – a lot. Her grade in art class remains to be seen. She's trying to make a linoleum carving of a tree, and it's not going well. One day at lunch, Heather tells Melinda they can't hang out anymore. Melinda is too weird and too depressed. She's holding Heather back.
On Valentine's Day there's an envelope on Melinda's locker. She's sure it's a joke, but is excited by the idea that it might be for real. Maybe, it's from David Petrakis. She goes to biology class in suspense. David is nice to her, so maybe it is from him. She opens it up and finds a "sorry" note from Heather and the friendship necklace she gave Heather for Christmas.
Because Melinda keeps skipping school, she has to have a meeting with the guidance counselor, the principal, and her parents. She skips school some more, only to find herself in in-school suspension. Andy Evans is in there too. So, she stops skipping school to avoid being trapped with him.
When Melinda learns about Pablo Picasso's "cubism" (an artistic style), she is inspired and makes much progress with her tree project. But still, Melinda has no friends and eats lunch alone. It's a long cold winter with lots of snow. She spends lots of time sleeping in her supply closet.
One night, Melinda watches the snow from her roof balcony and remembers the end-of-the-summer party. (Flashback alert!) At the party, she drinks three beers, and a really cute senior flirts with her and dances with her. She's happy because she'll start high school with a boyfriend. Suddenly, he's forcing himself on her, covering her mouth with his hand when she tells him no. Afterwards, she finds herself inside the house, calling the police. A girl hears it's the police and freaks out. Somebody slaps her. Rachel glares. Melinda leaves on foot before the cops come. (End of flashback.) Melinda bites right through her lip as she remembers the party. Now, she has to get stitches.
This section ends with Melinda's report card. She has Fs in Social Life, Cloths, Social Studies, and Algebra. She has Ds in Lunch, Biology, English, Spanish, and Gym, and an A in Art.
Fourth Marking Period
It's spring now, and there's bad news. Andy Evans is hanging out with Rachel and her friend Greta-Ingrid. On the last day of Spring Break, Melinda goes to the mall and runs into Ivy. They talk, share Life Savers, and draw together. Soon, Melinda learns that Rachel is dating Andy Evans. When Melinda sees them making out in the hall, she feels like her head is a volcano about to erupt. Melinda decides to act – she disguises her handwriting and writes Rachel a note warning her about Andy.
For extra credit, Melinda does a report on the "suffragettes" who risked jail to fight for women's right to vote, own property, and have the same access to education as men. When Mr. Neck tries to make her read it out loud, she refuses, standing up for her right to be silent. Later, David tells her she's missing the point of the suffragette movements. Suffragettes were about speaking in order to gain rights. If people don't speak up, they are "letting the bad guys win" (73.6). David still admires Melinda for standing up for something, but he urges her to "speak up for [her]self" (73.8) so she can "make a difference" (73.8). He also says he might call Melinda sometime, and she says she might answer.
Andy creeps up on Melinda one day when she's in the art room after school. He's looking for Rachel. Soon, Rachel shows up and then leaves with Andy. Ivy tells Melinda that Andy is a dangerous guy, and she can't believe Rachel is going out with him. Melinda is really freaked out, so she walks home, goes to her room, and hides in her closet. She pushes clothes in her mouth, to drown out the sound of her screams. The next day, Melinda has a fever and stays home from school. She watches talk shows and decides that she was indeed raped, and that it wasn't her fault.
One day, Melinda and Ivy are in the bathroom trying to get marker out of Melinda's shirt. Melinda decides to write on the bathroom wall. She writes, "Guys to Stay Away From" (81.22) on the wall. She puts Andy Evans down as number one, then shows Ivy her masterpiece.
Ivy looks pleased. Apparently, Rachel never gets this memo, because Melinda soon hears that Rachel and Andy are going to prom together.
Heather goes over to Melinda's house, trying to get Melinda to help her decorate the prom ballroom. Melinda refuses and Heather leaves, angry and surprised. This motivates Melinda to take a more direct approach. In study hall, she finally tells Rachel about how she was raped. But, when Rachel hears that Andy is the rapist, she accuses Melinda of lying and runs off. After this, Ivy finds Melinda in the hall and takes her to the bathroom. Dozens of girls have written about Andy's attacks on them. Melinda feels like flying.
That Saturday, Melinda revisits the site of her rape. She begins to see herself as a seed breaking through the dirt to grow toward the sun. She knows she can get on with her life now.
The Monday after prom, Melinda learns that Rachel slapped Andy when he touched her wrong while they were dancing. Melinda watches as Rachel and Greta-Ingrid humiliate him in the hall.
Melinda goes to her closet to clean it out. She's been hiding long enough. Drat. She needs her backpack so she can pack up her blanket. Then BOOM! Andy Evans is in the closet with her. He's mad because she's been talking about him. He tries to rape her again. Melinda screams, "NNNOOO!!!" (88.16). She manages to break the mirror with her turkey bone sculpture. She holds a shard of glass to Andy's neck. Nicole and the lacrosse team have heard the commotion and go to get help.
It's the last day of school, and Melinda's drawing her final tree. She thinks this tree is really alive. She knows she'll be back here very soon for summer school. A girl tells Melinda she's sorry about what happened to her and hopes she's OK. Thanks to the lacrosse team, everybody knows what happened between Andy and Melinda. Melinda draws birds flying around her tree. She understands she can't hide. She knows that Andy raped her, and hurt her, and that it isn't her fault in any way, even if she was a little drunk.
The picture is done, and the last bell rings. Mr. Freeman joins Melinda, who is crying a little. He tells her not to cry because salt water isn't good for the art supplies. He tells Melinda that her picture is A+ work. Speak ends with Melinda beginning to tell Mr. Freeman her story.
Welcome to Merryweather High
- The narrator, whose name we'll learn in a bit, has an upset stomach. It's her first day at Merryweather High.
- She decides to sit at the front of the school bus. This way she can see if any of her friends have decided to stop giving her the silent treatment.
- Kids she knows from middle school give her dirty looks when they get on the bus.
- This is what she was afraid of. Nobody sits with her.
- At school, painters are painting over "Merryweather High – Home of the Trojans." The Trojans are now the Blue Devils. The school board thinks "Trojans" (you know, kind of like the condoms brand) sends the wrong message about sex.
- The narrator joins the other ninth graders in the auditorium for an assembly.
- Everybody is in a group except the narrator. She has "entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And [she] doesn't have anybody to sit with" (1.7).
- She used to be part of the "Plain Janes," but the other members are now in different groups.
- Nicole is with the "Jocks" (1.9), Ivy with the "Suffering Artists" (1.9), and Jessica has moved away. The narrator can hear people behind her laughing, and she knows it's at her.
- When she turns to look, she sees that her ex-best friend Rachel is among the laughers.
- Out of everyone, the narrator really wants to tell Rachel the truth.
- (It'll take a while, but we will eventually learn the narrator's secret.)
- Rachel looks at the narrator and her lips form the words "I hate you" (1.11).
- The narrator bites her lip and draws blood.
- A teacher approaches. The narrator refers to him as "Mr. Neck." He tells her to sit down. She imagines he's one of those coach/social studies teachers.
- She takes a seat next to a girl with braces who smiles at her and introduces herself as "Heather from Ohio" (1.14). Heather is new to the area.
- The narrator summarizes the assembly by providing us with a list of "The First Ten Lies They Tell You In High School" (1.15).
- Number One is, "We are here to help you" (1.16). Number Ten is "These will be the years you look back on fondly" (1.25). (Open up that book to see the rest…)
- The narrator has trouble finding her first class, biology, and gets a "demerit" for being in the hall when she's supposed to be in class.
- She figures she only has about 700 days left of high school.
Our Teachers are the Best…
- The narrator's English teacher has crazy black and orange hair that covers her face. The narrator just refers to her as "Hairwoman."
- Hairwoman gives everyone a journal. They are to write in the journals daily, but Hairwoman won't read what they write.
- Mr. Neck does turn out to be the narrator's social studies teacher. He too provides journals.
- The class will study American history again – they've studied it every year the narrator's been in school.
- Mr. Neck remembers the narrator from the assembly and tells her he'll be watching her. He tells her to sit in the front of the classroom.
- She wonders if he's suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from fighting in some war.
- Lunch is after social studies. The narrator enters the cafeteria and goes through the line.
- Some kind of turkey and mashed potatoes is dumped onto her lunch tray.
- A senior, who she calls the "Basketball Pole," is somehow given three cheeseburgers in the lunch line. She needs to observe him to learn his secret.
- She looks around and sees some of her old friends, but they turn their eyes from her. She sees Heather from Ohio and considers sitting with her.
- But then someone throws a big spoon of mashed potatoes at the narrator and hits her.
- She runs out of the cafeteria, but is caught by Mr. Neck in the hallway.
- She can't think of any words to say to him, so she says nothing. He tells her he knows that she's "trouble" (3.14), and he gives her a demerit.
- After lunch comes art class. Syracuse, New York isn't the sunniest place, so the art room has lots of windows to let in whatever light there is.
- The radio is on and the room is comfortably messy. The teacher is Mr. Freeman. He isn't good looking, but he's smiling.
- The narrator sees Ivy, but Ivy doesn't look at her.
- Mr. Freeman tells the students: "This is where you can find your soul if you dare. Where you can touch a part of you that you've never dared look at before" (4.5).
- He spends some time arguing that art is more important than the other subjects they are learning.
- He shows the class a broken globe; his daughter Jenny put her foot through it. Mr. Freeman is inspired by the broken globe. He sees it has endless possibilities as art, now that it's broken.
- Mr. Freeman explains that there are pieces of paper in the globe. Each student is supposed to take a piece. He says, "On the paper you will find one word, the name of an object. […] You will spend the rest of the year learning how to turn that object into art" (4.11).
- The narrator can't believe how good the assignment sounds – too good to be schoolwork. The paper she chooses says "tree."
- She doesn't think a tree is much of a challenge and tries to trade.
- Mr. Freeman doesn't let her. He says, "You just chose your destiny, you can't change that" (4.12).
- Next, he gives everybody a piece of clay. With the clay they will begin their new artistic experience.
- In Spanish class, the Spanish teacher is desperately trying to teach Spanish without using any English. She tries to act out the sentences she's teaching the class.
- The students respond by guessing the most ridiculous things they can think of.
- At one point, she writes a sentence on the board in Spanish. In English it translates to "I'm surprised how tired I am today."
- The students spend the rest of the period trying to translate it. They come up with "To exhaust the day to surprise" (5.3).
- It's been two weeks since school started. The narrator usually eats lunch with Heather. Heather is extremely talkative, so the narrator doesn't have to say much.
- Rachel and the other kids the narrator has known all her school life are still giving her the cold shoulder.
- Kids are often openly aggressive toward her, pushing her around in the hall, grabbing her books, and throwing them on the floor. Maybe they will all get over it one day.
- At home, the narrator finds some money and a note from Mom telling her to order pizza.
- Her mother is the manager of a downtown clothing store called Effert's.
- We learn that the narrator's name is Melinda.
- She eats pizza and watches TV until she hears Dad in the driveway. She goes to her room before he gets in the house.
- Melinda's room is still decorated as it was in the fifth grade. Since Rachel was decorating her room, the other Plane Janes all decorated theirs.
- Even if she felt like redecorating, she doesn't know how she wants it to look.
- She rules out homework. Her bed is calling her for a nap. She must obey.
- She can hear Dad pouring a drink and heating up some pizza in the microwave.
- To let him know she's home, Melinda turns her radio on.
- From her bed, Melinda looks at herself in the mirror across from her and does not like what she sees.
- She wonders if she can make a tree with her face, "like a dryad from Greek mythology" (6.10).
- Her mouth is all chewed up. She can't stop herself from biting her own lips. She doesn't even recognize them anymore.
- She takes the mirror off the wall and puts it in the closet.
Our Fearless Leader
- In this chapter Melinda refers to herself as "Errant Student." ("Errant" means "one who errs, makes a mistake, screws up.")
- Anyhow, the bell has rung, and Melinda's hiding in the bathroom waiting for the mean kids and school personnel to clear out of the hall.
- She looks out the door and sees Principal Principal (the principal) nab another "errant student" (7.1).
- Somehow, this tricky student manages to gets away without a demerit. Principal Principal looks confused about how this has happened. This makes Melinda laugh.
- Melinda thinks gym class should be outlawed.
- Her locker is right next to Heather's. Heather wears an undershirt and leaves it on when she changes.
- Nicole is the only other person in gym who Melinda knows. Nicole changes clothes in front of everybody, not caring who sees her naked.
- Melinda thinks, "If you're [as strong as Nicole], you don't care if people make comments about your boobs or rear end" (8.3).
- September is coming to a close, which means it's field hockey time in gym class. Field hockey means mud.
- Nicole is awesome at field hockey and all other sports. Teachers love Nicole. She's going places. If Nicole wasn't actually a nice person, it would be easy for Melinda to "hate her" (8.7).
- But Nicole is a nice person.
- (It's not really clear at this point whether Nicole isn't speaking to Melinda, or whether she's just so absorbed in sports that she's forgotten about her.)
- Rachel, who used to be Melinda's best friend, is in the bathroom with Melinda.
- Rachel has changed her name to Rachelle; she's hanging out with foreign exchange students and learning French.
- Melinda's trying to put in her contact lens and Rachel is putting mascara on.
- Melinda says hello to Rachel, and Rachel says, "Mmm" (9.5).
- So Melinda tries, "How's it going?" (9.7).
- Rachel makes another funny noise. Melinda is so mad at Rachel. Rachel never even asked her why she did what she did. (We'll learn more about what Melinda "did" later…)
- After making a mess of her mascara, Rachel puts a candy cigarette in her mouth.
- Rachel's friend comes out of a bathroom stall. She looks like a model, like someone who would be named Greta or Ingrid. From this point on, Melinda refers to her as Greta-Ingrid.
- Rachel turns away from Melinda and leaves.
- Melinda knows she needs a friend – not a best friend, or even good friend, just a friend of any sort. She needs someone to make her feel a little bit better about herself.
- Melinda rides the bus home with Heather. All the way to her house, Heather talks about all the clubs she wants to join.
- Heather's room is being redecorated so Melinda and Heather head down to the carpeted, furnished basement.
- Melinda tries to watch TV and eat popcorn.
- Heather runs furiously on the treadmill, still talking.
- After burning a hundred calories on the treadmill, Heather gets a pen and paper and says they need to write down their goals. She asks Melinda what her goals are.
- Melinda thinks that two months ago she wasn't that different from Heather. But everything is different now.
- Melinda's current goal is naptime in her room.
- Melinda doesn't know study hall is in the library today, because yesterday Hairwoman took her out of study hall to do a make-up assignment in her classroom.
- When Melinda gets to the library, study hall is over. She tries to tell the librarian what happened, but she can't find the words.
- The librarian tells her not to worry. She has a pad of late passes, and she gives one to Melinda.
- Melinda feels better and checks out some books that she might even read.
- At lunchtime, Mr. Neck is following Melinda around trying to get some homework from her. She escapes him by going into "the Senior's Wing" (11.4). She's never been here before.
- Mr. Neck is hot on her trail, but she ducks into what she thinks is a classroom. Luckily, it isn't a classroom, but a janitor's closet, one which doesn't seem to be in use anymore. The closet has shelves, a chair, a desk, and a mirror.
- This abandoned, out-of-the-way closet is just what Melinda needs.
- She snags a pad of Hairwoman's late passes and her mood improves.
- Today there's a Homecoming pep rally. Melinda plans on cleaning her new hiding-closet instead of attending. But, before she escapes to her closet, Heather gets hold of her.
- Heather is really excited about the pep rally, and she has an extra pom-pom. She gives it to Melinda.
- Melinda decides the pep rally won't be so bad after all. At least she has somebody to sit with.
- The girl sitting behind Melinda in the bleachers asks Melinda if she's Melinda Sordino. Melinda indicates that she is.
- The girl pokes Melinda hard with her nails. She asks, "Aren't you the one who called the cops at Kyle Rodger's party at the end of the summer?" (12.9).
- Lots of people hear the girl and turn to look at Melinda. One girl calls Melinda an "asshole" (12.10). She says her brother got thrown in jail that night because of Melinda's call.
- In her mind, Melinda tells the girl that there's more to the story than she knows.
- But, Melinda can't tell everybody the real story. She "can't even look at that part of [herself]" (12.11).
- Heather seems on the verge of defending Melinda, but she doesn't do it. It might keep her from getting popular.
- Things get noisy, what with the cheerleaders cheering and the crowd cheering for the cheerleaders. Melinda's head is in her hands and she screams, but nobody can hear her.
- School's only been in session for six weeks.
- The Blue Devils themselves arrive on the scene. Melinda thinks all football players are bullies.
- The girl sitting behind Melinda knees Melinda in the back with her sharp boney knees.
- Then the girl with the brother who went to jail pulls Melinda's hair, hard.
- All the while, Heather waves her pom-pom.
- Now, the coach introduces the cheerleaders. Melinda thinks, "Our cheerleaders are much better at scoring than the football team is" (12.17).
- Melinda is still at the pep rally and her mood is getting worse and worse.
- We learn that Melinda's family isn't religious. The only thing they worship is their credit cards. Melinda feels that a bit of religious training would have prepared her to understand cheerleaders. She thinks, "It has to be a miracle. How else could they sleep with the football team on Saturday night and be reincarnated as virginal goddesses on Monday?" (13.2).
- It seems like cheerleaders lead double lives. In one life, teachers and parents and students adore them and give them everything because they are perfect. On the other, they party like crazy, have wild Spring Break sex, and get lots of abortions.
- But, it doesn't matter what they do in their private lives, because they are perfect on the outside.
- Melinda is sure none of them are ever like her. They always speak and think clearly and have lovely, shiny lips.
- After the pep rally, some kids push Melinda and she falls down three rows of bleachers.
- If she ever starts a group, it'll be called the Anti-Cheerleaders. They will hang out under the bleachers during pep rallies and "commit acts of mayhem" (13.5).
The Opposite of Inspiration is…Expiration?
- In art class this week, Melinda has been using watercolors to work on her tree.
- All the trees she paints have been struck by lightning. They are almost dead. These pictures are very dark.
- Mr. Freeman gives the tree pictures a funny look, but makes no verbal comment.
- Ivy isn't happy with her selection: "Clowns" (14.2). Ivy was so traumatized by a childhood clown that she has to see a therapist. Mr. Freeman says great art can start with what someone is afraid of.
- After a while, Mr. Freeman points out the bookshelves and the art books. He says if they get stuck, they can use the works of great artists for inspiration.
- Then Mr. Freeman starts ranting about the school board cutting the art budget. Some kids fall asleep.
- Melinda doesn't. She tries drawing a tree on notebook paper with a pen. She just can't get any feeling into her trees, and she wonders if Mr. Freeman is going to help her.
- It's Columbus Day, so there's no school. Melinda wants to stay in bed, but Heather begs her to come over.
- Heather's mom suggests that Heather have a sleepover, and that Melinda ask some of her friends to come. Melinda smiles, even though she knows her old friends would probably do her some violence if they met her at such an event.
- Heather's room has been redecorated. It doesn't look like a kid's room. Everything is too perfect and organized. It seems just like Heather.
- Melinda doesn't want a room like Heather's, but she does want a room that's more like herself.
- Heather paints her nails and talks. Getting a part in the school musical is her latest goal.
- Melinda nods and says as little as possible. She says it's really hard to get a part in the musical. You have to have talent and know the right people in the right places.
- Acting is a breeze for Melinda, so she would do great in the musical. Like now, she's pretending to be a normal high school girl. She also sees a career for herself as a mime.
- Heather says she doesn't understand why they shouldn't be in the musical if they want to be – they could be extras or something if they don't have talent.
- Heather doesn't understand why the kids here are so harsh and cold. Nobody pays any attention to her at all, and Melinda is a bummer and a negative person. Melinda, she knows, is just pretending not to be bothered by all the rumors about her.
- With that, Heather begins crying and spills nail polish on the floor.
- Next, she apologizes to Melinda.
- Melinda tries to clean the spilt polish with nail polish remover.
- This really messes up the carpet, and Heather starts bawling again.
- Melinda can't take any more, so she leaves.
- At dinner, Melinda's parents get all dramatic. They are mad because Melinda's progress reports have come and her grades are really bad.
- Dad orders her to get higher grades. Melinda doesn't say anything.
- Mom tells her the same things, but in a scary, pretend nicey-nice voice. Mom forces Melinda to look her in the eyes.
- Finally, Melinda does. Then she leaves the table and goes to her room.
- Mom and Dad fight with each other now, and Melinda listens to loud music to drown out the fighting noises.
- Melinda is going to try to do better in school. She focuses on learning about cells in science class.
- The science teacher, Ms. Keen, strikes Melinda as too brilliant to be teaching high school.
- David Petrakis is brilliant too. He's Melinda's lab partner.
- David might be a hottie when the metal comes off his teeth. He's so brainy it's scary.
- Melinda wonders why David doesn't get beat up, why bullies don't bother him.
- David doesn't pay much attention to Melinda, except when she almost ruins an expensive microscope the day Ms. Keen wears the crazy purple dress.
- That dress is a hot gossip topic for a long time.
Student Divided By Confusion Equals Algebra
- Melinda comes to math class very, very late. Mr. Stetman is suspicious of her late pass.
- She can't focus on algebra. She does fine with fractions, decimals, geometry, things she can see a use for. But, algebra leaves her cold.
- Mr. Stetman is totally obsessed with algebra. It's his passion. He has gazillions of stories about the uses of algebra, but nobody can understand any of them.
- The class is asked to "explain the wangdiddler's role in the negative hotchka theorem" (18.6).
- Heather volunteers and is incorrect. Mr. Stetman asks Melinda to explain.
- When she shakes her head "no," Mr. Stetman asks somebody to help her.
- Rachel volunteers, and Melinda panics. She and Rachel are at the front of the class.
- While Rachel does the problem, Melinda bites her bottom lip. She thinks, "If I try hard enough, maybe I can gobble myself whole this way" (18.9).
- Suddenly, everybody is laughing at her, and she realizes it's time to go back to her seat.
- Algebra, Melinda decides, is definitely not her cup of tea.
- Mom and Dad say Melinda is "too old to go trick or treating" (19.1).
- Melinda is quite happy about this. She won't have to reveal her shame to her parents: nobody has invited her to go. But, she pretends to be upset and goes to her room.
- She watches the trick or treaters from her bedroom window.
- The year before, Melinda's group (the Plane Janes) all went as witches. They looked awesome and got oodles of candy. That night they tried to see their futures in a mirror at Ivy's house.
- She knows Rachel is partying at some exchange student's house, and that she won't be asked to that party, or any others.
- It's OK though – Melinda has plans. She'll be reading Dracula by Bram Stoker.
Name Name Name
- After Halloween, the school board decides that the "Merryweather Devils" should be the "Merryweather Tigers."
- In Spanish class, the students learn that the Spanish word "linda" means "pretty."
- So, they start calling Melinda "Me-no-linda" (20.4).
- Melinda wonders if she was kidnapped by beings from another planet the night of that end-of-summer party. Maybe these beings "have created a fake earth and fake high school to study [her] and [her] reactions" (20.5).
- She doesn't think these aliens are very funny.
- Heather has joined a group called "the Marthas."
- Wow. Melinda isn't sure how Heather pulled off getting into the Marthas.
- Being a Martha takes some serious cash. Being a Martha means wearing matching outfits.
- The other Marthas are Meg, Emily, and Siobhan.
- The Marthas are very helpful to the community. Although the founder of the Marthas named the group after the biblical Martha, the current Marthas seem to worship Martha Stewart. They are decorating maniacs. They raise lots of money for charities too.
- Heather is required to decorate the faculty lounge for Thanksgiving, and she recruits Melinda to help her.
- The faculty lounge is a sad and lonely room.
- Melinda is botching her part of the decorating. Heather rescues her and asks Melinda if she thinks it's wonderful that she got into the Marthas! Since the other Marthas come into the room, Melinda doesn't answer the question.
- Emily asks Heather who Melinda is. Heather says that Melinda is her first friend at Merryweather.
- Siobhan says, "She's creepy. What's wrong with her lips? She looks like she's got a disease or something" (21.19).
- Melinda cries in the bathroom until she's sure the bus has left – with Heather on it.
- She washes her face. She tries to wash away all her facial features.
- Melinda is walking in the hall, and she sees someone she refers to as "IT" in the hall, walking with a cheerleader.
- She can't believe IT goes to this high school. This is not a dream she can wake up from.
- "IT sees [Melinda]. IT smiles and winks" (22.2).
- Melinda would vomit, except her "lips are sewn together" (22.2).
- This chapter ends with a look at Melinda's report card. She gets an A in Art, a B in Biology, a C and a D in Lunch and Clothes, and Cs in most everything else.
Go ____________ (Fill in the Blank)!
- Merryweather High has to choose a new mascot again, thanks to the Ecology Club. The club says that the name "the Tigers" is very disrespectful to tigers.
- An assembly is called to try to choose a new name.
- Before Winter Break, student council will put it to a vote. The new choices are as follows: the Bees, the Icebergs, the Hilltoppers, and the Wombats.
- Melinda's parents tell her she must get tutoring from her teachers every day after school.
- She does stay late at school, but she spends her time in the abandoned janitor's closet she found.
- She's been redecorating it. She tapes a poster of Maya Angelou up over the mirror. The librarian gave Melinda the poster. She had to take it down from the library because the school board is banning one of Maya Angelou's books. According to the librarian, "Ms. Angelou is one of the greatest American writers" (24.2).
- (Shmoop totally agrees.)
- If they are banning her books, Maya Angelou must be very good, Melinda decides.
- Melinda thinks Maya Angelou wants her to read books in the closet, so she brings some books.
- Lately, Melinda is having more and more trouble talking.
- She's also clenching her teeth in her sleep.
- When she's with Heather, alone, her "mouth relaxes" (24.3) a little, but she can't talk at all around teachers.
- She wonders what her problem is. Yeah, she's aware that she's got some mental problems right now. If only she could go to a different school, a different world.
- She really, really wants to tell her secret, "to hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to somebody else" (24.4). But, that won't get rid of the horrible memory.
- Better she stays in the closet and keeps the awful thing to herself.
All Together Now
- Even though the Spanish teacher isn't supposed to be speaking English to the class, she does. But only to tell them that if they don't do better on their homework, they'll all be sent to detention.
- Melinda doesn't want detention, so she does her homework. She picks five verbs to conjugate. She picks, "to translate," "to flunk," "to hide" and "to forget" (25.3-6).
- (She doesn't tell us the fifth verb. Be sure to look at your book to see the words in Spanish!)
- It's Job Day at Merryweather High. Everybody takes a test with two hundred questions on it. Their answers are supposed to predict the careers they'll be best at.
- Melinda is predicted to do well in "(a) forestry (b) firefighting (c) communications (d) mortuary science" (26.5).
- Heather's results predict that she will do well as a nurse. Heather is completely excited and decides to be a candy striper (volunteer worker in a hospital) this summer. She can clearly see her path to nurse-hood before her.
- Melinda doesn't even know what she'll be doing in the next few minutes.
- First, she has to actually survive ninth grade. After that, maybe she'll be more career-minded.
- Mr. Neck comes into class angry. He writes the word "IMMIGRATION" on the board. He says that the Neck family has been in the US for 200 years, but his son can't get a job because there are too many immigrants.
- Apparently, Mr. Neck's son didn't get the fire fighter job he applied for, because of "reverse discrimination" (27.7).
- Mr. Neck announces that there will be a debate in class today. The topic: "America should have closed her borders in 1900" (27.9).
- Some of the students whose families came to the US after 1900 raise their hands to argue against Mr. Neck's statement. Melinda isn't sure where her parents' families are from.
- The debate gets heavy, split into pro- and anti-immigration factions.
- One particularly courageous kid tells Mr. Neck that maybe his son didn't get the job because he wasn't good enough. The brave kid says he believes "the white people who have been here for two hundred years are the ones pulling the country down. They don't know how to work. They've had it too easy" (27.12).
- Mr. Neck basically tells that kid to shut up, and then he stops the debate.
- Melinda continues trying to draw a tree. She's concentrating hard when she notices that David Petrakis, the guy she partners with in biology lab, is standing.
- David is the most well behaved kid in the world, so Melinda can't understand why he's about to get himself in big trouble.
- David tells Mr. Neck that he can't stop the debate because some students don't agree with him.
- Mr. Neck says he can so, and he tells David to sit down.
- David says, "The Constitution does not recognize different classes of citizenship based on time spent living in the country. […] As a student, I am protesting the tone of this lesson as racist, intolerant and xenophobic" (27.22).
- (In case you don't know, "xenophobia" is "an unreasonable fear of foreigners.")
- Mr. Neck tells David to sit down. He says he can't believe David is trying to "turn it into a race thing" (27.23) and threatens to send David to the principal.
- David gives Mr. Neck a hard look, then walks out of the classroom.
- Things get crazy for Mom around Thanksgiving time, because Mom manages a clothing store downtown. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. It's the beginning of the biggest shopping season of the year, the Christmas season.
- While preparing for the holiday season, Mom sets "totally unrealistic" (28.2) sales goals for the store. Plus, she chain smokes and coffee binges.
- Mom plans on cooking Thanksgiving dinner, even though Dad and Melinda try everything they can to stop her.
- On Thanksgiving morning, Mom realizes she's forgotten to thaw the turkey. She tries to cut up the frozen bird with a knife. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is very important to Mom.
- After Dad buys doughnuts, Mom starts getting calls from her store (which seems to be open on Thanksgiving day).
- She gives Melinda some orange juice to drink, but it burns Melinda's bitten, chapped lips.
- After Melinda showers, cleans her room, and gets dressed, she finds Mom trying to thaw the turkey by boiling it.
- While Melinda is reading magazines in her room, she hears her parents fighting.
- Mom has to go into the store, and Dad begins chopping the frozen turkey with a knife. Dad tries to salvage the meal, to prove how much better he is at Thanksgiving than Mom. He makes some kind of gross turkey soup thing.
- In the end, though, he gives Melinda some money to order pizza.
- Meanwhile, he buries the turkey in their pet cemetery, next to Melinda's deceased dog, Ariel.
- Melinda thinks that their turkey had a really rotten Thanksgiving. She wants to "make a memorial" (29.1) for it. So, she takes the turkey's bones to art class.
- Mr. Freeman loves it. She can use the bones in class, but has to stick to the tree motif.
- First, she tries turning the bones into firewood – since firewood comes from trees. Mr. Freeman doesn't like that idea.
- He's working on a humongous painting of a prison-like building on a rainy day. Members of the school board are in the building, looking out at the dark sidewalk through barred windows.
- Melinda loves watching Mr. Freeman's canvas change as the days go by.
- Looking at her turkey bones, Melinda pretends she's an anthropologist who "[has] unearth[ed] the remains of a hideous sacrifice" (29.6).
- When the bell rings, she asks, with just her eyes, if Mr. Freeman will let her stay. Mr. Freeman understands and says he'll get her out of Spanish class.
- This causes a chain reaction: Ivy asks to stay too.
- Melinda arranges the turkey's bones on a piece of wood, as if she's preparing it for display in a museum. Knives and forks are glued on "so it looks like they are attacking the bones" (29.8). She adds a Lego palm tree that has escaped some kind of fire. A Barbie head goes in the middle of the turkey exhibit.
- Ivy and Mr. Freeman are totally impressed.
- Mr. Freeman asks Melinda about it. She tries to tell him, but her voice is too dry for words to come out of. Mr. Freeman says he's heard lots of people have sore throats right now.
- Instead he offers his interpretation: He sees it as the body of a girl who has been destroyed by a bad holiday. While her dead body dries out in the sun, the knives and forks pick off all her skin. (Be sure to look in your book for the rest of Mr. Freeman's fabulous interpretation of Melinda's artwork.)
- Melinda laughs, feeling a little more confident about the whole art situation.
- She moves the Barbie head to where the turkey head would be, and takes away the palm tree. It isn't really necessary.
- Ivy compliments her on the piece. She says it's frightening, but not in a bad way.
- Melinda is a bit amazed that Ivy is even speaking to her.
- Mr. Freeman says that her work shows "pain" (29.19).
- The bell rings and Melinda leaves class, not able to listen to what Mr. Freeman might say next.
Peeled and Cored
- This week Ms. Keen, the biology teacher, has been focusing on teaching the class about flowers.
- The kids in the back row snicker when Ms. Keen talks about how the plants reproduce.
- Ms. Keen passes out apples and plastic knives to dissect them with. The kids in the back row are sword fighting with the plastic knives. They get their names written on the board and lose points off their grades.
- David Petrakis neatly dissects his apple. David is trying to decide between taking pre-med and pre-law courses in college.
- The smell of fresh apple fills the room, reminding Melinda of the time her parents took her to an apple orchard to pick apples, a happy memory.
- Melinda takes a big bite out of her juicy, red apple. David flips out. He says they will lose points now.
- She cuts her apple into four pieces and finds twelve seeds. One of the seeds is cracked, and there's a tiny, baby apple tree sprout growing in it.
- Ms. Keen gives Melinda extra points for having an apple with an apple tree growing inside it.
- Melinda likes biology.
First Amendment, Second Verse
- The students are all pretty rowdy since Winter Break is only a week away. The teachers and staff are tired, so the students do whatever they want and don't get in trouble.
- In history, class David Petrakis has a tape recorder on his desk. He starts recording when Mr. Neck begins his lecture.
- This time, Mr. Neck teaches history without inserting his personal political feelings. He gives David the evil-eye during the whole lesson, though. The tape recorder won't be able to record all that. David doesn't turn away from Mr. Neck's glares.
- When Melinda is waiting for the counselor in the office she hears that David's parents hired a lawyer. They might sue the school district and Mr. Neck.
- The lawyer claims Mr. Neck has violated some students' civil rights and that he's not really qualified to be teaching.
- David's lawyer wants David recording the class sessions to catch Mr. Neck if he screws up again. The next day in class, David's lawyer has a video camera set up in the classroom, probably to capture Mr. Neck's evil-eye on film.
- David is Melinda's hero.
- Heather convinces Melinda to come to the Winter Assembly with her. Heather's a little sad that the Marthas didn't invite her to sit with them, even though she has the matching outfit. The highlight of the outfit is a sweater with a Santa Clause on it.
- As an early Christmas present, Heather gives Melinda some earrings which are bells. Melinda will need to get Heather a present now, maybe a friendship necklace.
- The vote is in – now the school mascot is the Merryweather Wombats.
- Melinda kind of likes that. She hears some cheerleaders trying unsuccessfully to find words that rhyme with "wombat."
- A couple of days before Christmas, Melinda gets their Christmas tree out of the basement and sets it up.
- Christmas, she thinks, isn't Christmas without at least one little kid around. Too bad there's no rent-a-kid store.
- Christmas hasn't been the same since Melinda told her parents she knew the truth about Santa Clause.
- Melinda thinks she's the only reason her parents are still together. She's pretty sure she isn't the kind of kid they want, though. She doesn't have any great qualities.
- She's actually just like her parents, a regular person with lots of "secrets and lies" (33.3). She wishes her family would just admit that they aren't a success. They could sell the house, divide the money between them and live separate lives.
- Oh, the Christmas spirit.
- After calling Heather and learning that she's out shopping, Melinda goes out in the backyard. It's really beautiful out here because it's snowing.
- Melinda gets some holly branches, takes them back in the house, and uses them to decorate the mantle. The holly smells good.
- On Christmas day, Melinda and her family all get up around 12pm and open presents.
- Among other gifts, Melinda gets a sketch pad and some charcoal pencils. Her parents have noticed her interest in drawing. She almost tells them her secret at this moment.
- Realizing that her parents have actually noticed that she's been drawing almost makes her cry. Her parents are watching her, trying to tell if she likes the gift.
- She didn't tell them her secret before, because they weren't home when she came back after the party. By the time they got home, Melinda had showered and was in bed.
- Her parents came home separately that night and at different times. Melinda wonders where they were and what they were doing. She has a pretty good idea.
- She just doesn't know how to begin telling them what happened that night.
- Mom and Dad clean up the wrapping paper and then leave the room.
- Melinda is still sitting there, holding the sketch pad and charcoals. She's missed her chance to thank them for the gift.
- Two days after Christmas, Melinda's parents decide she should spend Winter Break at work with them.
- First, she goes to work with Mom at the store downtown. Mom has Melinda folding shirts in the basement stockroom. The employees down there give Melinda dirty looks. They're sure she's spying for Mom.
- After folding several shirts, Melinda sits back and starts reading a book. The employees realize she is not a spy.
- Mom knows Melinda didn't do any work. When Melinda sees how tired and old her mother looks on the ride home, she feels guilty.
- Next, Melinda goes with Dad to the office where he sells some sort of insurance. Melinda doesn't know the details.
- He gives Melinda the job of preparing calendars to be mailed out to customers.
- While she works, Dad sticks his feet up on his desk and gabs on the phone with his friends. Melinda doesn't think it's fair that Dad gets to have a nice easy job, with a secretary who brings him lunch. He should be working a hard job like Mom's.
- Melinda is super mad at Dad.
- She cuts her tongue on an envelope. When she tastes the blood, she sees "IT" (34.4).
- This cools her anger.
- Now, Dad's mad because she got blood on lots of calendars.
- Even school is better than this.
- Since it's completely snowy, P.E. is held in the gym, which is freezing cold. They are playing basketball, learning how to throw foul shots.
- Melinda makes her first shot. Ms. Conners, the gym teacher, tells her to keep going. Melinda makes 42. Everybody is watching her.
- Nicole says, with excitement, that Melinda should be on the basketball team.
- A while later, Ms. Connors tells Melinda that her grades are too bad to be on the basketball team. Melinda wants to tell her she's got no interest in getting all sweaty and being on the team anyway.
- Still, it feels nice to be good at something for once.
- The boys' basketball team comes in and starts practicing their foul shots. Basketball Pole, whose name is actually Brendan Keller, doesn't make a single shot. (He's the guy who threw mashed potatoes at Melinda on the first day of school.)
- After the boys' team fails at the art of foul shots, Ms. Conner has Melinda show them how it's done.
- Ms. Connors and Coach tell Melinda that she'll get an A in gym if she teaches the boys how to shoot.
- She shrugs in agreement. She wants to say "no" but she can't talk. Instead, she "just won't show up" (35.12).
Coloring Outside the Lines
- Mr. Freeman is the most popular teacher in school.
- In his art class, they can listen to the radio and nibble on munchies while they create fabulous sculptures, paintings, and sketches.
- Mr. Freeman's painting (see Chapter 29) is really wonderful. A reporter interviewed Mr. Freeman recently. There was an article in the paper about him, with a photo of his painting.
- There's a rumor that some of the school board members didn't like seeing themselves in Mr. Freeman's painting and are planning to sue him.
- Melinda is working on trying to carve a tree. She can see the tree in her mind, but can't turn it into art.
- Yesterday, Principal Principal come into the room, obviously eager to catch them listening to the radio or eating, but the students were crafty. They got rid of the evidence before Principal Principal saw it. All he saw was students quietly working on their art projects, concentrating deeply.
- Mr. Freeman asked Principal Principal if there was something he needed, and Principal Principal just stormed out.
- Melinda considers a career as an artist.
- Since Heather begs her, Melinda goes to Heather's house after school.
- Apparently, the Marthas aren't happy with Heather's performance. She tells Melinda the story:
- For Valentine's Day, the Marthas make pillows to give to kids stuck in the hospital.
- Heather is nervous because some Marthas disapprove of her outfit. So, she glues the hearts on crooked and spills glue on a pillow.
- As punishment, they make Heather stuff pillows – the lowliest job.
- Next, Heather launches into a tale of the Marthas' food drive.
- Melinda starts to space out. Suddenly, she hears Heather saying, "I knew you wouldn't mind, Melinda" (37.5). "What?" (37.6), Melinda asks her.
- Heather says she knew she could count on Melinda to illustrate posters. Illustrating posters is Heather's latest job with the Marthas. She begs Melinda to help her, praising Melinda's skill as an artist.
- Melinda doesn't know how to refuse.
- In biology class, it's time to dissect frogs.
- David Petrakis, Melinda's lab partner, is totally excited and serious about the whole process. Even the kids in the back row are happy about this project.
- Melinda and David's frog is on its back on the lab table. Holding the knife, Melinda watches David pin the frog's arms and legs down. Melinda's having trouble breathing.
- It's Melinda's job to cut the frog's stomach open. The frog can't complain because she's "already dead" (38.4).
- Melinda feels a scream deep inside herself – she "can feel the cut, smell the dirt, leaves in [her] hair" (38.4).
- (Melinda seems to be giving us clues about whatever it is that happened to her at the party last summer.)
- Melinda doesn't remember losing consciousness. David Petrakis tells her that she even banged her head on the lab table before she hit the floor.
- Stitches are necessary, so the nurse calls Mom. As the doctor shines a light in Melinda's eyes, Melinda wonders if the doctor can read her mind. If she can, will she call the police, or put Melinda in a psychiatric hospital?
- Melinda wonders if that would be such a bad thing.
- Sleep is the only thing Melinda desires.
- She thought if she didn't talk about what happened to her, she would forget about it. But her plan isn't working. The memory is burned in her brain.
- She considers waiting for David Petrakis to become a brain surgeon and getting him to cut the memory out for her.
- Heather's a model now. She has a job at the mall. She claims some random woman at the mall offered her the job shortly after her braces where removed.
- Melinda knows Heather's dad works for the mall. He's probably the one who got her the job.
- Now, all the Marthas just love Heather, but it's Melinda's company Heather wants at the mall on her first day of modeling.
- On the way to the mall, Heather's mom asks Melinda if she wants to model. Heather tells her mom that Melinda is "too shy" (39.2).
- Melinda can see Heather's mom watching her in the rear-view mirror. Melinda can also so how disgusting her scabby lips look, so she covers them up.
- Actually, Melinda does wish she was a model, like the girl she saw on a recent magazine cover – so beautiful nobody would dare to put their hands on her.
- But, Melinda's dedication to cheeseburgers might put a damper in her career.
- Heather, on the other hand, is practically starving herself, and Melinda wonders what this is doing to Heather's brain.
- It's freezing in the store, and Heather has to wear a bathing suit. The photographer is a weirdo who keeps telling Heather she's "sexy" (39.5).
- Melinda's throat is very sore, and she needs a nap.
- Melinda buys some "Black Death" nail polish, which is black with red lines in it.
- She's been biting her nails to the quick, and they are bloody. So the nail polish will match.
Death by Algebra
- Mr. Stetman, the algebra teacher, is determined to make the class see how desperately they need algebra and how much it will help them in their future lives.
- Every day, he comes to class with a "Real-Life Application," to show them how they can apply algebra to real life.
- The one for today involves guppies and a pet store. Mr. Stetman turns the guppies into x's and y's. At this point, Melinda loses her focus.
- The "animal rights activists" in the class argue that it's wrong to own fish.
- The "red blooded capitalists" argue that guppies aren't good investments.
- Melinda looks out the window and watches the snow.
- Hairwoman is inspired by the dramatic excuses kids give for how they lose their homework. So, for the next essay, she gives them a fictional topic: "The Best Late Homework Excuse Ever" (41.3)…and everybody has their homework ready on time.
- But now Hairwoman can't stop. She assigns essay after essay. The topics are cool, sure, but it's just too much.
- Now Hairwoman is even trying to slip grammar into the lessons. Melinda finds grammar hideous.
- Hairwoman needs to go on vacation, so that the kids can have a break from all this work and all these words.
Naming the Monster
- Melinda spends the next week working on the posters for the Marthas' canned-food drive. She works on them in her supply closet, where she feels comfortable.
- Since Heather has a new modeling job, Melinda hangs the posters for her.
- She feels good about this work. If the other kids see her hanging the posters, it could be good for her badly damaged reputation.
- Melinda is hanging a poster outside the metal shop room when the guy she refers to as "IT" (2.2) sneaks up behind her and says "Freshmeat" (42.3) in her ear.
- Of all the girls in school, IT is after her – again.
- His smell makes her nauseas. She panics, drops the tape and poster, and runs.
- Now, she knows that IT remembers what he did to her.
Rent Round Three
- The counselor gives Mom a call at work to let her know that Melinda's report card is terrible. At dinner, Mom and Dad explode like volcanoes.
- Mom and Dad ask Melinda lots of questions, like, "What's wrong with you?" (43.4).
- Melinda says nothing. Why should she? They don't want her side of the story.
- They ground her from just about everything.
- She gets her home work done, shows it to them, then writes a note saying she's running away.
- Mom finds the note on Melinda's desk, and she finds Melinda sleeping in her bedroom closet. She gives Melinda a pillow.
- In the closet, Melinda unfolds a paperclip and uses it to scratch her wrist. She thinks, "If a suicide note is a cry for help, then what is this? A whimper, a peep?" (43.6).
- She uses the paperclip to draw lines on her wrist. Blood seeps out.
- When Mom sees what Melinda did to her wrist, she says, "I don't have time for this, Melinda" (43.8).
- Melinda doesn't respond. Mom tells her that "suicide is for cowards" (43.10).
- Mom is into "tough love" now (43.8). She gives Melinda a book about it.
- Mom is starting to see that Melinda isn't a big talker, which annoys her.
- At lunchtime, Melinda knows Heather is having problems with the Marthas. She isn't dressed like the other Marthas – which means they didn't call her to tell her what to wear.
- Heather sits "at the fringe of the Martha table" (44.1). Melinda sits at another table, but near Heather. Siobhan asks Heather why she contributed canned beets to the canned-food drive.
- Heather tells her that a neighbor donated the beets and since beets are foods people eat, she contributed them to the drive.
- Well, canned beets just aren't acceptable to the Marthas – a beet is not a fashionable food.
- Next, Siobhan tells Heather that she hasn't collected nearly enough cans, and that the posters she made for the canned-food drive are silly and bad. The drive is a failure and it's Heather's fault.
- Emily is finished with her lunch, and Heather gets up to clear her tray, without defending Melinda's posters.
- Siobhan is excited now. She tells Emily that Andy Evans is coming up to their table.
- Melinda turns to see who they are talking about. They are talking about IT.
- Now she knows ITs name.
- Heather asks Emily and Siobhan if it's true that Andy is a bad guy.
- Siobhan says that's just gossip. Emily says that the truth is that Andy's rich, good looking, and maybe just a tad "dangerous" (44.18). Emily brags that Andy called her last night.
- Siobhan says that according to gossip, Andy "sleeps with anything" (44.19).
- The peanut butter from Melinda's sandwich glues her jaws together.
- Emily says she doesn't believe the rumors.
- And then Andy is at the table.
- Everything gets blurry and dark for Melinda. She can't really hear what's going on either.
- Andy is playing with Melinda's hair. Emily looks upset about it.
- Melinda runs to the bathroom, vomits and washes her face.
- Heather doesn't come to see if Melinda is OK.
- Mr. Freeman is in trouble. The school thinks he's been giving out too many As.
- The giant canvas stands unfinished. Mr. Freeman is too depressed to work on it.
- It's freezing cold in the room, but nobody wants to complain to Mr. Freeman.
- Melinda is trying to carve a tree in linoleum. She accidentally cuts her thumb on the linoleum knife. Mr. Freeman gives her a tissue and washes the knife with bleach. Melinda shakes her head "no" when Mr. Freeman asks if she wants to see the nurse.
- Before Mr. Freeman gives Melinda back the knife, he uses it to slash his canvas.
- Everybody in the class is shocked.
- The chapter ends with Melinda's report card. She gets Ds in Attitude and Social Studies, an A in Art, a B in Biology, and Cs in everything else.
Death of the Wombat
- Principal Principal announces that they are no longer the Merryweather Wombats. Now, they are the Merryweather Hornets.
- This is partly economic. The wombat mascot costume was going to be so expensive it would take away money from the prom.
- Melinda doesn't think this new name is a good idea. She's allergic to hornets. They make her skin break out and her throat swell.
Cold Weather and Busses
- Melinda gets up late and misses the bus.
- Mom tells her she has to walk to school. Melinda is surprised, but she doesn't mind. The walk is nice.
- She decides to spend her lunch money on doughnuts from the doughnut shop.
- Uh oh. She sees Andy Evans coming out of the doughnut shop.
- She can't move, just like a rabbit facing with a possible predator.
- Andy sees her and offers her a bite of his doughnut.
- She runs and wonders, "Why didn't I run like this before when I was a one-piece talking girl?" (47.14).
- Running makes her feel like she's a kid again. Then suddenly, she decides not to go to school.
- At first, skipping school is excellent. Melinda can do whatever she wants, and nobody is around to boss her.
- She walks around until she's freezing, and then almost decides to go to school, where she can get warm.
- Instead, she takes the bus to the mall, which is just opening when she arrives. She didn't realize the mall was ever closed.
- Elderly women exercise. Melinda window shops.
- She sits watching the sun stream in through the skylight.
- Maybe she should go ahead and tell someone her secret.
- A security guard sees Melinda, and she can tell he's about to report her as a truant.
- She goes outside to catch the bus, and waits until time for school to be out so she can go back home.
- For the next four days, Melinda gets up early, catches her bus, and goes to school.
- The routine drives her crazy. She'll have to skip school now and again for relief.
- It's Nathaniel Hawthorne Month at school. Melinda feels sorry for Hawthorne. She feels bad that the class is tearing apart every line of The Scarlet Letter.
- Hairwoman says that to understand Hawthorne, you must understand his elaborate system of symbols.
- Melinda thinks this is a little silly, but she enjoys it too. It's cool to think of Hawthorne writing in a kind of code to get his point across, while also keeping things interesting.
- Hairwoman wants to know what "the house with bits of glass embedded in the walls" (49.7) symbolizes in Hawthorne's novel. Nobody answers.
- Hairwoman says that glass in the walls suggests a house where something dangerous is going on.
- Rachel, Melinda's ex-best friend, challenges Hairwoman. She argues that if Hawthorne wanted us to read his novels symbolically, he would have written a book called "Symbolism in My Books" (49.11). Otherwise, how can we know that Hawthorne meant us to interpret these symbols in a particular way?
- Hairwoman replies, "This is Hawthorne, one of the greatest American novelists! He didn't do anything by accident – he was a genius" (49.12).
- Rachel says that she actually likes the story, but she doesn't believe in reading it symbolically.
- Hairwoman says that symbolism in Hawthorne is like the multiplication tables in math. Once you understand, it all makes sense.
- She's really mad though – and she assigns an essay. Now everybody is mad at Rachel.
- See what happens when you say what you believe?
- Melinda's grade in art is currently a question mark.
- She hasn't made any progress in carving her tree. She tries switching to finger paint, but still no tree.
- She looks at books with illustrations of all sorts of trees. She knows what she needs to do, but she can't do it.
- Mr. Freeman hasn't talked to her about her work since the fabulous turkey exhibit.
- Well, Mr. Freeman seems to have serious troubles of his own. He's not quite here these days. He stares blankly at his new canvas, which is painted a single blue-black color.
- When Ivy reminds him that the class is waiting for him, he begins talking crazily about the color of his canvas. Among other things, he says the color is the color of "Despair," of "Smoker's lung," and of "The heart of a school board director" (50.5).
- There's gossip that Mr. Freeman is having some kind of "breakdown" (50.6).
- Melinda, however, sees Mr. Freeman as "the sanest person [she] know[s]" (50.6).
- Lunch is always bad news, and the lunchroom always smells nasty.
- Today, Melinda and Heather are sitting away from the Marthas.
- Heather tells Melinda that it was really nice that Melinda befriended her at the start of school. But…they really don't have much in common, and it's time they realized it.
- Melinda wants to say something mean to her, but she can't. Instead, she says, "You mean we're not friends anymore?" (51.7).
- Heather says they weren't really ever friends to begin with. She says Melinda is "the most depressed person [she's] ever met." She says she thinks Melinda needs "professional help" (51.10).
- Melinda realizes she really wants Heather's friendship. She says that her depression is no reason for Heather not to be her friend. She says that friends help each other when they are down.
- Heather says Melinda is being "weird" (51.13), as usual.
- Melinda is staring at the hearts on the wall on the other side of the cafeteria. For five bucks, you get a heart with your name on it pinned on the wall on Valentine's Day.
- Melinda understands – nobody wants to be Heather's friend if she's weirdo-Melinda's friend.
- Heather says that when Melinda stops hating life, she'll find friends. She's mad at Melinda for skipping school. She thinks Melinda will soon turn to drugs.
- Heather says that Melinda has "a reputation" (51.18).
- Melinda asks for details, but Heather just tells her that they are no longer lunch buddies.
- Heather makes her way to the Marthas' table, without looking back at Melinda.
- This is one of the shortest chapters in literary history. It consists of Melinda conjugating the verb phrase "to cut class" (52.1).
- She can't conjugate it in Spanish because she skipped Spanish class.
Cutting Out Hearts
- It's Valentine's Day and still snowing. The boyfriend of a girl named Angela, which he spells Anjela, has spray-painted his love for her in the snow. Angela is overjoyed and they kiss in the parking lot.
- Valentine's Day was important in grade school, but basically disappeared in middle school. So, Melinda is a little surprised to see that it's big deal in high school.
- She's even more shocked to find an envelope with her name on it taped to her locker.
- It has to be some kind of cruel prank.
- What if it's not a joke? Maybe David Petrakis sent her a valentine…
- He sort of seems to like her in biology class.
- In class, Ms. Keen teaches them about birds and bees – not as a metaphor for sex, but actual birds and bees.
- David looks like he's about to fall asleep. Melinda wonders if she would like it if David has a crush on her. She decides it would be better if no boys liked her.
- She bites her thumbnail bloody. David offers her some tissue.
- She writes him a thank you note in her notebook. They write and draw back and forth for the rest of the class period.
- Back at her locker, Melinda faces the Valentine card.
- It's from Heather, wishing Melinda "luck" (53.10). Heather has also returned the friendship necklace Melinda gave her for Christmas.
- She feels like she's breaking inside. She runs to the supply closet and shuts herself in. Now she can bite her wrist and cry. She can bang her head against the brick wall.
- She has nobody. Nobody can like her.
Our Lady of the Waiting Room
- Melinda's skipping school again. She snoozes on the bus and misses stop at the mall. Instead she gets off at the Lady of Mercy Hospital.
- She decides to wander around. Maybe she'll learn something useful to share with David.
- Nobody bothers her. She likes being in the hospital, though she knows her pleasure isn't exactly healthy.
- The people in the heart attack waiting room are grim and depressed.
- Since the people in the maternity ward waiting room are happy, they ask Melinda too many questions.
- The cafeteria is great. Lots of professional-looking people around.
- After lunch, she checks out the adult surgery wing. She thinks the doctors and nurses look like they know what they're doing.
- She sneaks a hospital gown, wishing she could put it on, climb into a hospital bed, and take a nap. Sleeping at home is getting harder and harder.
- She sees a man on a stretcher. His neck is bandaged, and she can see the blood leaking.
- Then Melinda puts back the gown. Compared to these people, she's not really sick. She goes to catch the bus.
Clash of the Titans
- People have been noticing that Melinda has been skipping school, so a meeting is arranged with Mom, Dad, Principal Principal, the guidance counselor, and Melinda.
- They can't understand why Melinda won't talk or explain herself to them.
- Principal Principal wants to know why Melinda had good grades, good attendance, and good behavior last year, but not this year.
- Mom thinks Melinda is acting out to make her parents notice her. Dad thinks the school has done something to hurt or change Melinda.
- The counselor asks Mom and Dad if they have "marriage issues" (55.16).
- Mom curses; Dad tells the counselor to "visit that hot, scary, underground world" (55.17).
- Next, Mom and Dad say they are sorry for losing their cool.
- Melinda imagines the scene as if it's a musical and her parents are singing show tunes. The thought makes her giggle. Her mom wants to know what's funny about the situation.
- Dad says her "slacker attitude" (55.22) must be something she's learned at school.
- The counselor tells Mom and Dad that Melinda's friends, Meg Harcutt, Emily Briggs, and Siobhan Falls, are "very nice" girls (55.23). Principal Principal agrees that those girls are nice.
- Principal Principal asks Melinda if those girls are, in fact, her friends.
- Melinda wonders how they can be so blind. Can't they see she doesn't have any friends at all?
- Melinda "ha[s] nothing," "say[s] nothing," and "[is] nothing" (55.25).
- She considers taking a bus to Arizona.
- Melinda is put in Merryweather In-School Suspension – MISS, for short.
- This is her "Consequence" (56.1) for skipping school.
- She had to sign a contract. The contract lists a whole bunch of things she isn't supposed to do and what will happen to her if she does them.
- For being late to class, she is supposed to write an essay. She doesn't want to, so she skips school and winds up in MISS.
- In MISS, everybody is supposed to be quiet and look straight ahead.
- Mr. Neck is here (groan) to make sure they do.
- There are three people in MISS with her. One guy looks wild; another does not.
- The third person in MISS with Melinda is Andy Evans. Her breakfast turns to acid.
- She learns that Andy is in MISS because a teacher thinks he has "an authority problem" (56.7).
- Melinda feels like a rabbit again, afraid to move.
- We are told, "When Mr. Neck isn't looking, [Andy] blows in [Melinda's] ear" (56.11).
- She wants to murder him.
- Mr. Freeman sees that Melinda is stuck and he thinks that learning about Pablo Picasso (the famous Spanish artist) will inspire her. Mr. Freeman says that Picasso "saw the truth" and "painted the truth" (57.2).
- He puts the book about Picasso in front of Melinda and she reads.
- Melinda notices that Picasso drew lots of nude women. She wonders why he doesn't draw nude men too.
- She doesn't like the Picasso's "blue pictures" either. Not enough colors.
- (Melinda is talking about paintings done by Picasso in his "Blue Period." From 1901 to 1904, when Picasso was in his early twenties, he did a famous series of paintings, all in blue. Take a look by clicking here.)
- The chapter on "cubism," however, gets her very excited. She loves the way the objects in the paintings have been broken up into cubes and other geometric shapes and rearranged.
- ("Cubism" is an artistic style which Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with inventing. For a definition of cubism, and different types of cubism, click here and scroll down.)
- She wonders how "the world looked to [Picasso]" (57.6). If only Picasso was a teenager in high school here, he and Melinda could be friends.
- When Melinda draws a tree using principles of cubism, Mr. Freeman says she's finally on the right track.
- Melinda stops skipping school. She likes being on top of her classes again.
- The guidance counselor gives Mom and Dad the good news. She says they should give Melinda a gift of some sort. They decide to buy her some new clothes.
- Melinda can't stand shopping with Mom, so she's glad when Mom and Dad say her shopping spree is to take place at Effert's. Effert's is the store where Mom works; she gets a discount.
- At least there Melinda can shop fast and easy and go back home.
- She's waiting for the bus to take her to Effert's after school. It's freezing.
- Mr. Freeman pulls up in a blue Volvo and offers her a ride. She accepts, and warms up in the cozy car while Mr. Freeman drives.
- He compliments her on her cubist tree, saying she's improved a lot as an artist, even though she probably doesn't see it. Melinda says, "I don't know anything. My trees suck" (58.10).
- Mr. Freeman says that she shouldn't put herself down like that. In art, mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Melinda, surprised that she's talking so much, says that she doesn't understand what Mr. Freeman means when he tells them "to put emotion into [their] art" (58.13). She says, "I don't know what I'm supposed to feel" (58.13).
- Mr. Freeman says that powerful art comes when people use art to express their emotion. When people don't express what they feel, they die inside.
- At Effert's, Melinda thanks Mr. Freeman for the ride and gets out.
- Mr. Freeman tells her, "You're a good kid. I think you have a lot to say. I'd like to hear it" (58.17).
Hall of Mirrors
- Mom's secretary says Mom is busy. Relieved, Melinda shops alone.
- She's grown to a size ten, though she can't believe it.
- Darn puberty, making her body grow and change, putting pimples on her face.
- The clothes in Effert's are a fashion nightmare. Melinda just needs to find a single pair of jeans that actually fit, then she'll be happy. She finds a nice big pair. Mom is still nowhere in sight.
- Melinda looks at herself in the three-part mirror wearing the new jeans.
- She can barely see the real Melinda in that reflection. She sees dirty hair and a dirty face, raccoon rings around her eyes.
- She pulls the two outer mirrors closer, and her reflection becomes a cubist sketch by Picasso.
- She pushes her bitten, scabby lips against the mirror and wonders how it would feel if all her skin was fresh and new. She feels like all her skin has been destroyed by fire, and now she's forced to wander through the thorny bushes of her life, despised.
- She thinks that, if given enough time, she can grow new skin.
- At least she has some jeans that fit. She promises herself she won't hide in her closet or skip class anymore. She'll "make [herself] normal" (59.8) and not think about all the bad things in her life.
- Melinda is focusing on learning about seeds in biology class. She finds it pretty fascinating, actually.
- She learns a lot about how seeds are spread around the earth by wind and birds, not to mention fabulous facts about how seeds germinate (or sprout, so they can grow into plants).
- Seeds need the right amount of water, need to be planted at the right depth, and need to be at the right temperature, or they won't sprout.
- Once a seed sprouts, there are still lots of bad things that can happen to it to keep it from becoming a plant. Melinda thinks, "It's amazing anything survives" (60.4).
- She also learns how plants grow: "Most plants grow fast and die young" (60.5).
- Melinda likes plants a lot and is going to do really well on her biology test.
- Melinda has no friends to speak of, so she eats lunch alone. To make things easier, she brings a lunch to school, usually bologna sandwiches. She sits by herself and tries to read.
- When it's too loud to read, she watches, trying to analyze what she sees.
- She watches Heather, Emily, Meg, and some new potential Martha that just moved here. She wonders if they talk about her, if she's the reason they are laughing so hard.
- Rachel is sitting with Hana, an Egyptian exchange student. Rachel is learning about Islam now. She has on a head scarf and some "harem pants" (61.7).
- Even though there are other "losers" (61.8) in the lunchroom, they eat with each other. Only Melinda is completely alone.
Snow Day – School as Usual
- It snows almost a foot. Any place but Syracuse, New York, this much snow would mean school was cancelled.
- Hairwoman tells them about a time in the 1970s when school was closed for a whole week because there was an "energy crisis" (62.2), and it would cost too much to heat the school.
- Hairwoman looks like she wishes the school would close for a week right now. All the teachers look like they need a break.
- Hairwoman is asking the class what "snow symbolized in Hawthorne" (62.4). The class moans and groans.
- Melinda thinks that snow, in Hawthorne's novel, symbolizes "cold and silence" (62.6) and stillness. Once snow falls and sits on the ground, it becomes "as still as [Melinda's] heart" (62.6).
- Since she can't face the bus after school, Melinda pays a visit to her closet.
- She greets her Maya Angelou poster, her cubist tree, and her turkey bone exhibit.
- It's still hard for Melinda to get any rest at home, for some reason, but she drifts easily into nap mode once safely inside the closet.
- She wakes up when she hears girls yelling, "Be Aggressive, BE-BE, Aggressive! B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!" (63.1).
- At first, Melinda thinks she's lost her marbles, but then realizes that she's hearing the basketball game.
- It's almost 9 pm. She better run!
- She gets to the gym; the sound of all that excitement makes her stop and peek in.
- The Merryweather Hornets have won! Even Melinda gets excited and claps happily.
- Suddenly, David Petrakis sees her and runs over to her. He seems thrilled to see her.
- He invites her to come with him for pizza with his dad. Melinda says no, offering lame excuses.
- David doesn't look offended and says he'll see her at school next week.
- Now there are two Melindas, and they are arguing with each other.
- The first Melinda argues that having pizza with David is totally safe. David would never try to hurt her, and his dad would be there. She needs to have some fun.
- The second Melinda is on the lookout for possible predators. She tells the first Melinda that nothing is safe, and nobody can be trusted.
- If Melinda gets rid of both of them, would there be any Melinda left?
A Night to Remember
- Melinda listens to the radio in her room after the basketball game, but sleep does not come.
- She goes up to the porch on her roof and watches the moon and sky.
- Last summer, Rachel arranged for them to go to the end-of-summer party held by some cheerleaders.
- Rachel's brother Jimmy drives them to the party; Rachel's mom thinks they are going to the skating rink.
- The party is at a farm a few miles from where Melinda lives.
- Melinda starts drinking beer, which tastes gross. After about three beers, she feels the urge to vomit, so she walks out toward the woods.
- This really cute senior starts flirting with her. The senior asks her to dance, and she accepts. It feels so good.
- She wonders where Rachel is and wants to see her.
- Soon, the senior kisses Melinda.
- It feels good.
- She's happy because she'll already have a boyfriend when she begins high school.
- Somehow, Melinda and the senior are on the ground now.
- He asks her if she wants to have sex.
- It's not quite clear whether Melinda says "no," or not. She doesn't want to, but she's having trouble getting the words out.
- The senior is pressing his heavy body on her; she feels like she's suffocating.
- He has his lips on hers very hard. She can't believe what's happening. She wants to scream for him to stop.
- He reeks of beer.
- The senior hurts her very badly and then leaves her, smiling.
- Melinda isn't sure how she got from there to the phone, but next thing you know, she is calling 911.
- Somebody takes the phone from Melinda and listens to see who she's talking to. This person realizes she's called the police and alerts the other partiers.
- Rachel looks really mad at Melinda. Somebody smacks Melinda in the face.
- Melinda leaves the party and walks home, before the cops come.
- (End flashback.)
- Melinda bites through her lip as she remembers that night, and she sees her blood dripping on the snow. She needs stitches in her lip.
- She doesn't like winter. There's too much winter in Syracuse.
- This chapter ends with Melinda's report card.
- She has Fs in Social Life, Cloths, Social Studies, and Algebra. She has Ds in Lunch, Biology, English, Spanish, and Gym. She has an A in Art.
- The Hornet is on its way out as the Merryweather mascot, if the petitioning PTA has its way.
- The PTA doesn't like the Hornet cheer. We'll give you the first two lines of the cheer: "WE ARE THE HORNETS, HORNY, HORNY HORNETS!" (65.2).
- (Be sure and read your book for the rest of the cheer.)
- The cheer even made it on TV. The sports commentators found it "cute" (65.3).
- The student council and the honor society join forces and write a counterpetition. According to the petition, Merryweather students have suffered "psychological harm" because they haven't had an identity all year. The mascot just keeps changing and changing! But they now have an identity, and one they are proud of. They have embraced their hornet selves.
The Wet Season
- It's almost Spring. The junky cars people use in the winter are disappearing, replaced by their sparkling cousins. Mom puts the winter coats in the attic; Dad considers removing the storm windows.
- It's April Fool's Day and most seniors are getting letters from the colleges they applied to. David Petrakis is writing database programs to track the results. He's analyzing how the students who got into Harvard managed it, so he can follow in their steps.
- Melinda rarely skips class now. She feels like an obedient puppy. She's starting to pass tests again.
- Andy Evans has dumped the Marthas and is now in the International Club with the foreign exchange students.
- She sees him with Rachel and Greta-Ingrid a lot now.
- Rachel flirts with him. She should know better.
- Melinda, Mom, and Dad eat lamb chops and hard-boiled eggs on Easter.
- Dad complains about the yard work, and Mom is quiet.
- Melinda thinks it might have been nice to go to church. She likes some Easter songs.
- On the final day of Spring Break, Melinda feels claustrophobic in her house, so she goes to the mall with ten bucks. She considers spending it all on fries.
- On second thought, summer and bathing suits are on the horizon so maybe deep fried isn't the way to go.
- Melinda goes downstairs to the fountain and encounters a throng of little kids waiting to have their faces painted.
- Ivy is down there sketching the kids. She's working on her clown assignment for art class. In her drawing, all the kids have "fake-happy" (67.7) clown makeup on one half of their faces, and no makeup and a sad look on the other half.
- Melinda approves of the drawing, and Ivy compliments her on the turkey bone art Melinda did after Thanksgiving. Ivy says she can't get it out of her head.
- Melinda's at a loss for words so she shares her Lifesavers with Ivy.
- When Ivy asks about Melinda's tree, Melinda makes a frustrated sound.
- Ivy tells Melinda she's a better artist than she gives herself credit for.
- Together, Melinda and Ivy draw a tree, and they both think it's the beginning of something excellent.
- In biology class, they are studying genetics. Ms Keen's voice is unbearable and Melinda is super bored.
- Today's class is "about some priest named Greg who studied vegetables […] and blue eyes" (68.1). Melinda isn't sure what vegetables and eye color have to do with each other.
- Luckily, she has David Petrakis to borrow notes from.
- (The "priest named Greg" is Gregor Mendel, sometimes known as "the father of genetics." Read about him here.)
- Melinda breaks her pencil so she can get up and sharpen it. She needs to move around a little.
- Ms. Keen says that, "We get half our genes from our mother and half from our father" (68.3).
- Mom thinks Melinda is more like Dad's family. In Dad's family, most people sell insurance or are with the police force.
- Dad thinks Melinda is more like Mom's family, "farmers who grow rocks and poison ivy" (68.3).
- Melinda used to pretend she was adopted and that her real parents, Mr. King and Mrs. Queen, who lost her when their kingdom was attacked, would come rescue her from her life.
- Melinda draws a tree for her supply closet, which she'll have to hang out in if class doesn't get more exciting.
- Ms. Keen announces a quiz for tomorrow, and Melinda wishes she'd been more alert.
- The chapter ends with "TEN MORE LIES THEY TELL YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL" (68.10.)
- (See Chapter 1 for the first ten.)
- Number One is "You will use algebra in your adult lives" (68.10). (Open up that book for the other nine…)
My Life as a Spy
- Rachel has gone totally bonkers. She's dating Andy Evans.
- Andy is also very affectionate with Greta-Ingrid.
- In algebra class, Melinda hears Rachel talking nonstop about Andy. Melinda can't concentrate on class because she's torn. She's doesn't know if she should try to protect Rachel from Andy, or let Rachel take care of herself, since she abandoned Melinda.
- After class, Melinda follows Rachel and Greta-Ingrid.
- Andy appears, playing and flirting.
- He kisses Rachel on the cheek. Melinda pretend-studies, trying to be invisible.
- She watches Andy and Rachel go on down the hall and start making out.
- Melinda feels like her head is a volcano about to erupt. She can't stop imagining Rachel as a cute little third grader.
- Melinda heads to her closet for a serious thinking session. She debates telling Greta-Ingrid, or Rachel, about Andy. She wonders what Andy would do if he found out that she told on him.
- Maya Angelou observes Melinda from the poster. It's obvious that Maya wants Melinda to tell Rachel.
- It's a little hot in the closet, so Melinda takes off her sweatshirt; April is humid and rainy.
- She observes the tree drawing she's pinned up, and thinks her art really has improved, at least a little. It would be nice to decorate her room to look like this closet.
- Melinda feels sure that Maya wants her to warn Rachel.
- Melinda writes Rachel a note telling her that Andy is dangerous, and that Rachel and Greta-Ingrid should be careful.
- She disguises her handwriting.
- Melinda's a bit irritated with Mr. Freeman. He is extremely negative about her tree, and she has to agree with him.
- She thinks she should be banished from art class, so she won't get in the way of "real artists […] like Ivy" (71.2).
- Tears in her eyes, Melinda throws away the linoleum on which she was carving her tree.
- Mr. Freeman takes her work out of the trash, brings her tissues, and encourages her to keep trying. He wants her to give her tree "flaws" to make it "interesting" (71.3).
- If Mr. Freeman believes in her, she'll keep trying even though it's hard.
- Mr. Neck and David Petrakis's lawyer meet at some point and work things out. Now, Mr. Neck allows David to speak his mind when David raises his hand.
- For extra credit, Melinda does a report on the "suffragettes" who risked jail to fight for women's right to vote, own property, and get the same access to education as men.
- Melinda writes an excellent report, complete with footnotes and lots of sources.
- Mr. Neck says that if she wants the extra-credit points, she has to present her paper to the class the next day.
No Justice, No Peace
- OK, Melinda is not going to read her paper out loud to the class. That wasn't even part of the assignment.
- Melinda and David put their heads together and come up with a strategy.
- Melinda makes a poster, asserting her right not to speak. On the poster, she compares herself to the suffragettes who took risks to stand up for their rights.
- David tells Mr. Neck, "Melinda has to deliver her report to the class as part of the assignment. She made copies everyone can read" (73.8).
- Mr. Neck isn't pleased. Melinda gets another D, another trip to Principal Principal's office, and another trip to MISS. (See Chapter 56 for her first trip to MISS.)
- Andy Evans isn't in MISS this time, thank goodness.
- Melinda thinks she got a raw deal here. She's been good, but she still gets in trouble.
- She wonders why everybody wants her to talk so badly. She has lots of reasons for not wanting to speak.
- She thinks she's in need of a good lawyer.
Advice From A Smart Mouth
- David types Melinda a note saying that it sucks that her parents didn't stand up for her against Mr. Neck. (Her parents don't really know yet, but the guidance counselor will fill them in soon.)
- At David's locker, Melinda tells him she got a D. David says a D might be what she deserves.
- According to David, Melinda missed the point of the suffragette movements. Suffragettes were about speaking in order to gain rights. If people don't speak up, they are "letting the bad guys win" (73.6).
- David still admires Melinda for standing up for something, but her urges her to "speak up for [her]self" so she can "make a difference" (73.8).
- David only gives this kind of advice to people he likes.
- Before Principal Principal runs all the kids out of the hall, David says he might call Melinda some time.
- Melinda decides she'll pick up if he calls, but if they go out for a date, he can't touch her.
The Beast Prowls
- Melinda stays after school to work on her tree. Mr. Freeman helps her until he has to take off for a meeting.
- Melinda feels safe here in the art room.
- All the sudden, the lights go off and she can smell Andy's terrible cologne.
- He asks her if she's seen Rachel Bruin.
- Melinda doesn't speak. Andy comes near her, sits on the table in front of her, and yells at her. She's frozen with fear.
- Soon, Rachel comes to the door. In getting off the table, Andy tears Melinda's paper.
- Ivy comes in at this moment, noticing that something is off.
- Rachel and Andy leave together.
- Ivy says that Andy is a really dangerous guy, and she can't believe Rachel is going out with him.
- Melinda is really freaked out. When she gets home, she hides in her closet. She pushes clothes in her mouth to drown out the sound of her screams.
- Melinda feels like she needs to stay home from school and pamper herself with ice cream and nail polish, so she plans ahead.
- That night, she doesn't eat, and in the morning she blackens her eyes with makeup.
- She's surprised when Mom takes her temperature. She actually has a fever.
- When she tells Mom she's feels sick, Mom says, "You must be sick. You're talking" (75.6).
- Mom realizes this isn't a nice thing to say. She apologizes and says, "It's nice to hear your voice" (75.8).
Oprah, Sally Jessy, Jerry, and Me
- Mom calls Melinda from work to check on her, which makes Melinda happy. She watches TV and imagines what it would be like if there was a talk show about her life.
- Some possible titles: "Why Seniors Should be Locked Up," and "My Summer Vacation: A Drunken Party, Lies and Rape" (76.2).
- Melinda isn't sure if she was actually raped.
- In her mind, Oprah says it was rape. Melinda said "no," and Andy put his hand over Melinda's mouth. Melinda's drunkenness doesn't have anything to do with it.
- Sally Jessy agrees. She wants to make sure Melinda knows "it was an 'attack'" (76.5). Melinda is not to blame for it in any way.
- Jerry agrees too, but wants Melinda to speak for herself.
- Melinda has a headache, a sore throat, and an acid stomach. She wishes she was in a coma.
- She wishes she could stop the voices in her head. She wonders if Andy raped her brain too, somehow.
- After taking some Tylenol and eating some pudding, Melinda falls asleep watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
- It's May now, and rainy weather turns to sunny weather.
- The neighbor's yard is looking good. The Sordino yard is not.
- It's Saturday, so Mom is at Effert's and Dad is snoozing.
- Melinda spends an hour raking years of leaves out from under their bushes. She has uncovered little plant shoots, eager now to meet the sun.
- Dad comes out and talks to Melinda, but she doesn't say anything. He seems pleased with the work she's done, and he starts listing other things he needs to take care of around the house. Melinda's afraid she's created a monster.
- Dad invites Melinda to go to the hardware store with him. Melinda imagines the crowded, bright, noisy hardware store on a Saturday morning and declines.
- Before Dad leaves, Melinda clears her throat and asks Dad to pick up some flower seeds for her.
- It's tennis time in Ms. Connors's gym class. Melinda knows how to play because Mom and Dad got her lessons two years ago. She didn't take many classes, though, because it was pretty expensive.
- Ms. Connors has Melinda and Nicole play against each other. The match gets heated. Melinda gives Nicole a run for her money.
- Toward the end, Melinda faults. After that, Melinda's game gets hot.
- Nicole does win, but only by several points.
- Melinda realizes that she has the strength and drive needed to win at tennis. Maybe she can play with Dad.
- It's yearbook time. Melinda isn't sure what drives people to collect signatures from people they don't even really know.
- The cheerleaders are actually competing to see who can get the most signatures.
- Now, Melinda understands why Todd Ryder is popular with the popular people, even though he's "Greasy, sleazy, foul-mouthed, and unwashed" (79.4). See, Todd is the official photographer for the yearbook. People who are nice to him get good pictures in the yearbook. People who are not, like Melinda, might find an unflattering picture of themselves in the yearbook.
- Melinda isn't going to waste her money buying it.
Hairwoman No More
- Hairwoman has a totally new look – short, black, spiked hair and new glasses.
- Melinda is really curious about what caused this change.
- It's rumored that Hairwoman changed just to create confusion during final essay time.
- Melinda thinks it's something personal.
- Maybe she's seeing a nice psychiatrist or maybe someone bought the novel she's been working on forever.
- Melinda wonders if she'll be seeing Hairwoman in summer school.
Little Writing on the Wall
- In art class Ivy accidentally makes a rainbow on Melinda's shirt with markers.
- If it wasn't Ivy, Melinda wouldn't believe it was an accident.
- Mr. Freeman lets Melinda go to the bathroom. While Melinda is trying to get the marker off her shirt, in walks Ivy. Mr. Freeman wanted to make sure Melinda didn't run away.
- Ivy takes charge of the shirt washing, while Melinda reads Ivy the writing on the bathroom wall.
- Melinda asks Ivy why she said Andy Evans was a dangerous guy.
- Ivy says she's heard that he forces himself on girls when he wants to have sex with them.
- They discuss the fact that Rachel is dating Andy.
- Ivy thinks Rachel is a snob.
- Melinda's shirt will probably need bleach.
- Melinda asks for one of Ivy's markers. She writes "Guys to Stay Away From" (81.22) on the wall.
- She puts Andy Evan down as number one, then shows Ivy her masterpiece.
- Ivy's looks pleased.
- Merryweather is in full prom mode. Teachers are totally frustrated because the students can't concentrate on their studies.
- Andy Evans and Rachel are double dating with Rachel's brother and his date.
- Melinda wonders if Rachel got her note. She wonders if Rachel and Andy laughed about it.
- It's possible that Andy won't rape Rachel. If Melinda doesn't stop obsessing about it, she'll drive herself insane.
- Heather comes over and complains about how much she hates being a Martha.
- Melinda tries to figure out what Heather wants from her.
- Heather comes out with it – she needs Melinda to help her fulfill a Martha assignment, which is to decorate the Holiday Inn ballroom for prom. In exchange, she offers to help Melinda decorate her room.
- Melinda tells Heather she won't do it. Shocked, Heather asks, "But, whiii-iiiy?" (82.19).
- Melinda says she will be busy. Then she tells Heather to make like a tree and leave, so Melinda can clean her room.
- Melinda's feeling strong. She's ready to fight. Time to talk to Rachel.
- During study hall, Melinda makes her move.
- After some semi-pleasant, nervous chit chat with Rachel, Melinda brings up Andy.
- Rachel gushes his praises. Melinda asks what Rachel will do when Andy, a senior, leaves for college.
- Rachel looks hurt, and says she'll "wait for him" (83.12).
- Before Melinda can really get into it, the librarian tells them to be quiet. They continue their conversation by writing notes back and forth in Melinda's notebook.
- Melinda asks if Rachel is still upset with her.
- Rachel writes she doesn't hold the party thing against Melinda anymore. But, she doesn't understand why Melinda called the police.
- Melinda writes to Rachel that she was raped.
- Rachel wants to know why Melinda never confided in her. Melinda writes that she has kept the secret until this moment.
- When Rachel asks who raped Melinda, Melinda tells her it was Andy.
- Rachel flips out. She accuses Melinda of making it up because she's jealous.
- Then Rachel storms out, saying she's going to the nurse because she might vomit.
- Melinda doesn't know what to do with herself. She doesn't want to be at school or at home.
- She hears somebody say her name. Uh-oh. Now she's really hearing voices.
- Whew. No. It's a real person. It's Ivy. She wants Melinda to see something.
- Dozens of people have written about their bad experiences with Andy Evans.
- It's seems that Melinda is one of many, many victims.
- Melinda feels like she could soar in the sky.
- The sound of a chainsaw wakes Melinda on Saturday morning.
- Melinda grabs a cup of tea, then joins Dad and some kids watching a tree being cut down.
- Melinda feels powerless to stop the tree's death.
- Dad tells a neighbor kid that the tree isn't dying. The diseased parts of the tree had to be cut down. Now the tree will be able to grow strong again.
- Melinda doesn't buy it. She thinks Dad is pretending to know about trees, but really he only knows about insurance. This whole scene bugs her, so she gets on her bike and rides away.
- Melinda is really enjoying herself. It's been a long time since Melinda's been riding. It's also a lovely, sunny day.
- Melinda finds herself riding out to Rodgers farm, the site of Kyle Rodgers's end-of-summer party.
- She finds the place where she was raped. She gets down on the ground and is scared.
- Melinda touches a nearby tree, trying to read answers to her life in the bark.
- How can she deal with what happened to her?
- She puts her hands in the dirt and starts to feel better, like the seed of who she used to be is growing up out of the dirt.
- She's going to take good care of this seed.
- Back on the home front, Melinda makes egg-salad sandwiches for lunch.
- Then, she gets to work on the front yard.
- Mom likes what she sees, and she and Melinda break out the summer lawn furniture.
- Dad arrives with pizza, and nobody fights at dinner.
- Melinda falls asleep on the couch watching TV and wakes up after midnight in the dark.
- She feels like she needs to do something; sleep is the last thing on her mind.
- She goes for a nighttime bike ride, this time through her suburb, past the houses of her ex-friends, Heather and Nicole.
- Rachel's house is lit up; her parents are probably waiting for her return from prom.
- Melinda considers popping in for a visit, but decides against it.
- She rides like she's flying. She feels like she won't "ever have to sleep again" (86.6).
- On Monday, there is much prom gossip. Apparently, there was massive prom drama. At least nobody died this year.
- Heather's prom decorations were awful, which is probably why she isn't at school.
- Rachel is doing just fine though.
- Andy Evans tried to dirty dance her at the prom and she almost slapped him.
- Andy got drunk and slept with his face in a bowl of dip.
- Rachel gave Andy back all his gifts, but in the form of ashes.
- Andy's friends think he's a joke.
- Only two more weeks and school is out.
- Melinda hopes that adulthood is worth the torture of high school.
- When Melinda is in her last class of the day, algebra, an idea suddenly strikes her: she's done "hiding" (88.1).
- When class is over, she follows Rachel. Andy Evans tries to get Rachel's attention, but she won't give him the time of day. She has a new boyfriend now, an exchange student from Portugal.
- Melinda is really glad to be seeing Andy get some of what he deserves.
- Andy keeps walking behind Rachel and Greta-Ingrid, but Greta-Ingrid turns and tells Andy off.
- Melinda thinks that Greta-Ingrid has come a long way with her English.
- Next stop: the closet. Melinda leaves the door open a little while she gathers some of her tree drawings and her turkey bone sculpture.
- She needs her backpack to carry the blanket, and she leaves the closet to go get her bag from her locker.
- Somebody hits her and forces her back into the closet, closing the door behind her.
- Melinda is stuck in the closet, with the light on, staring into the face of Andy Evans.
- Andy tells Melinda she's a liar – she messed things up for him by telling Rachel that he raped her. Andy says that girls have sex with him because they want to – he doesn't have to rape them.
- He asks Melinda if she's telling lies about him because she's jealous that he can get dates and she can't.
- Melinda tries to walk past him, but he blocks her and locks the door.
- He pushes her against the door.
- Maya Angelou watches from the poster.
- Andy tells Melinda that he's sure she won't scream, because she didn't scream last time. She's just jealous because he's dating Rachel instead of her. He plans to "give [her] what [she] want[s]" (88.12).
- Andy puts his mouth on Melinda's face and his teeth on her neck. He takes both of her wrists in one hand. She remembers what he did with the other hand last time.
- Suddenly, Melinda screams, "NNNOOO!!!" (88.16). Melinda pushes Andy off her and he punches her in the face. She keeps screaming.
- Andy smooshes her body against the sink. He's choking her. He moves his hand from her throat to her body.
- She grabs for her turkey bone sculpture and throws it at the Maya Angelou poster, breaking the glass of the mirror the poster is taped over.
- This confuses Andy enough that he loses his grip on Melinda. She picks up a piece of glass and puts it to Andy's throat. She wants to stab him, but she's happy with the fact that now Andy is the one who "cannot speak" (88.20). Melinda tells him, "I said no" (88.21).
- Now, somebody is banging on the door.
- Melinda opens it up and sees Nicole with the lacrosse team, and their sticks. They look pretty mad.
- When they see what's happening, one of them runs off to find some help.
- Melinda is in art class. It's the last day of school, and she's drawing her final tree.
- She thinks this tree is really alive.
- She knows she's destined for summer school because of all her bad grades, but she lingers in the art room, trying to make the tree just the way she wants it.
- Some kids come in to the art class to talk to Mr. Freeman. A girl tells Melinda she's sorry about what happened to her and hopes she's OK.
- The lacrosse girls told everybody what happened. When Mom brought Melinda home from the hospital the day Andy attacked her, there was an answering machine message from Rachel. She wants Melinda to give her a ring.
- Melinda's final tree is missing something. Birds. She draws birds flying, and she can feel the flying as she draws.
- She understands that she can't hide from what happened to her.
- Melinda knows that Andy raped her, and hurt her, and that it isn't her fault in any way, even if she was a little drunk.
- She can get over it and "grow" (89.9).
- The picture is done, and the last bell rings.
- Mr. Freeman joins Melinda, who is crying a little.
- He tells her not to cry because salt water isn't good for the art supplies.
- He tells Melinda that her picture is A+ work.
- Speak ends with Melinda beginning to tell Mr. Freeman her story.