Katherine Danziger

A high school senior and the novel’s narrator and protagonist. Katherine is rational, sarcastic, and strong. Though she is immediately attracted to Michael, she doesn’t let herself get carried away by her emotion or her desires even as their relationship develops.

Michael Wagner

A high school senior and Katherine’s boyfriend. Michael is passionate and cares deeply for Katherine and his best friend Artie. He falls quickly for Katherine and is ready to have sex with her, yet he is patient and respects her boundaries.

Erica Small

Katherine’s best friend. Erica is adventurous, charming, and experimental. Like Katherine, she’s a virgin at the beginning of the novel. She helps Artie explore his sexuality. As a result of her experiences, she decides that she wants to wait until she’s in love to have sex.

Artie Lewin

An actor and Michael’s best friend. Artie is confused and emotional. He is interested in Erica but is unsure about what he wants sexually. Artie is a talented actor. For most of the novel, he is in treatment for depression.

Jamie Danziger

A talented artist and cook. Katherine’s little sister. At 13 years old, Jamie already has different ideas about sex from her sister and parents. She looks up to Katherine.

Diana Danziger

A librarian and Katherine’s mother. Diana is a loving mother who talks openly with Katherine about sex. She encourages Katherine to make her own decisions but also teaches her that there’s more to life than one relationship.

Mr. Danziger

Owner of two pharmacies and Katherine’s father. Mr. Danziger is a caring father, supportive of Katherine, and concerned about her becoming overly involved with Michael.

Hallie Gross

Katherine’s grandmother and Diana’s mother. Hallie works for Planned Parenthood and sends Katherine a lot of information that helps her make wise choices.

Grandpa Gross

Katherine’s grandfather and Diana’s father.


Michael’s sister.


Sharon’s husband and Michael’s brother-in-law.

Sybil Davison

Katherine’s acquaintance and Erica’s cousin. Sybil has a high IQ. She’s talkative, positive, and has more sexual experience than Katherine and Erica.


An older tennis instructor who Katherine meets at camp in New Hampshire.

Elizabeth Hailey

A friend of Michael’s. Michael kissed Elizabeth on New Year’s Eve. Katherine is jealous of Elizabeth.

Tommy Aronson

A boy who pressured Katherine into having sex. Katherine believed she was in love with Tommy. 

Juliette Small

Erica’s mother and a famous actress.