Summary: Chapter 11

Christmas rolls around, bringing with it presents and changes. Elaine receives an album to go along with her camera. She also gets a plastic purse where she keeps her allowance. While the public areas of the house, like the living room, are now finished, the family bedrooms remain unfinished.

Grace sometimes asks Elaine over after school without Carol, claiming she can only have one friend over because her mother has a bad heart. Every afternoon, Mrs. Smeath naps on the living room couch. Unlike Mrs. Campbell, her hands are scrubbed raw from washing. Elaine sees the laundry drying and realizes Grace’s sisters wear hand-me-downs. Mrs. Smeath acts disdainful when Carol tells her about her mother’s twinset. Elaine wonders what exactly is wrong with Mrs. Smeath’s heart.

In the present, Elaine notes that she is now ten years older than Mrs. Smeath and wonders why she hates her so much. 

Summary: Chapter 12

Spring comes. Stephen and his friends start playing in the backyard. Elaine learns how to skip rope with Grace and Carol. At school, kids start playing with marbles, each one trying to win as many special marbles as possible. Elaine’s favorite marble is a blue cat’s eye marble that she refuses to risk losing. Instead, she keeps it at home in her plastic purse. Stephen wins so many marbles that he begins to horde them in jars, burying them somewhere in the ravine. 

Summary: Chapter 13

During the summer, the family travels north because of a rare caterpillar infestation Elaine’s father wants to study. Elaine returns to wearing pants. They stay in an abandoned logging camp. 

Elaine and Stephen begin to play together, picking blueberries and swimming in the lake. They have contests about how far they can spit water, although Stephen always wins.