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When we first meet April Hall, it's clear that she's the new girl in town—with all of the awkward, uncomfortable, friendless, no-fashion-sense side effects of new girl-hood. April has moved to her grandmother's apartment while her mother, a glamorous aspiring singer, is on tour.
April knows that she's not quite like the other kids, and that makes her both anxious and lonesome. Even after she meets Melanie Ross—the other kid in the building—she still worries about fitting in at school:
April was worried because she knew from experience—lots of it—that it isn't easy to face a new class or a new school. She didn't admit it, not even to Melanie, but she was having nightmares about the first day of school. (4.4)
On top of it all, April is a hard pill to swallow, and she knows it. She's from Hollywood, wears fake eyelashes, and can be a bit sharp if you poke her. Not exactly your typical sixth grader. But despite her fears, April ends up being accepted by the other kids in her class because of her differences—and how she keeps things fresh and exciting:
The sixth grade began to find out that April had a way of making life interesting. For instance, when she raised her hand in class, her answer wasn't always what the teacher wanted, but it was almost certain to be fascinating. And when it came to guts—whether it was hanging by your heels from the highest bar, or putting a stinkbug on the principal's desk—you could count on April to do it first and best. (6.6)
Way to go, April. Nothing solves a friend problem like a good stinkbug.
And so April makes friends who totally appreciate her oddities instead of simply tolerating them. She'll never blend in, but that just makes her more fascinating to the other kids.
What the kids in her new school see as weirdness comes from the fact that April doesn't really know where to call home. Throughout the book, she's split between two worlds. She might be getting more comfortable in this new place, but she doesn't want to call it home because she hopes that her mother will send for her. When Dorothea, April's mother, writes to tell her that she's moved into an apartment that doesn't have room for her, April is devastated:
"I got a letter from your mother today, too, dear," Caroline had said. She put one hand very gently on April's shoulder.
Hot tears had drowned April's eyes and painful gulps climbed up her throat. (13.16-17)
It's not that April hates living with her grandma so much, or even that she wants to live in Los Angeles again. It's the fact that she feels abandoned by her own mother. And you can't really blame her—Mom did move into a place without room for her kid. Not so nice. And she couldn't even pick up the phone to tell her? Tsk tsk, Mommie dearest.
But after some time, April comes to accept where she is, and begins to trust her nurturing grandmother. When she's all shaken up after her brush with the child murderer, it's her grandmother she goes to for comfort. She even calls her "grandma" instead of "Caroline" for once:
"Grandma," she said, "would you ask them if we can go home now? I'm terribly tired." (21.44)
Now that April considers her grandmother her real family and lets her in, she can finally settle in and enjoy the life she's created for herself.
Part of this new life is having a group of friends that she can hang out with all the time. April is initially a bit aloof and wary around her peers, but she clicks with Melanie and they become the best of friends. She doesn't even mind hanging out with Marshall, Melanie's four-year-old brother:
All through the month of August, Melanie and April were together almost every day. They played the paper-families game and other games, both in the Rosses' apartment and in Caroline's. They took Marshall for walks and to the park while Mrs. Ross was gone to her class, and almost every day they went to the library. (4.1)
Talk about being attached at the hip.
And after Elizabeth, Toby, and Ken join the Egypt Game gang, April considers them all to be her truest friends. She might argue with them sometimes—especially the boys—but hey, that's friendship for you, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
It makes perfect sense that April would be one of the co-founders of the Egypt Game, because she's filled with creativity and imagination. (Maybe she gets it from her actress mother. Though April's a little less self-serving about it.)
Although Melanie is the one who introduces April to make-believe games (starting with the paper dolls), April takes the concept and runs with it. She knows exactly what they're going to do when she, Melanie, and Marshall stumble across the abandoned yard:
"I know," April said suddenly, "Marshall can be the young pharaoh, heir to the throne of Egypt. Only there's a civil war going on, and the other side is trying to kill him." (5.10)
Okay, a little morbid, but pretty perfect as far as a game of fantasy goes.
She's especially good at coming up with all the rituals and ceremonies, and adds a dramatic flair to the game that astounds all the other kids. With April playing along, the whole Egypt Game becomes magical and mysterious—and she keeps the creative ideas coming all the way to the end of the book—and after, too, more likely than not.