Summary: Chapter 27
The next day, the front page of the morning paper features an article about the winning team along with a picture of Melody. Melody is concerned that her teammates are going to be upset that they are not pictured and that much of the article is about Melody, the girl with cerebral palsy, leading her team to victory. She finds out she is right when she gets to school. Rose acts cold toward Melody and expresses that the whole team should have been included in the picture. Melody agrees, then sighs and goes to Mr. Dimming’s class. He’s bursting with excitement and congratulates everyone on doing a great job, giving a special thanks to Melody for helping to secure a win for the team. He passes out a packet filled with all the information the team members will need for their trip to Washington, D.C. In preparation, they will need to practice every day after school. He says the six students with the highest scores in the preliminary rounds will be the final team for D.C. Before heading to practice after school, Catherine asks Melody what is bothering her. Melody types that the other kids do not want her on the team because she will make them stick out and make them look odd.
Summary: Chapter 28
Two weeks of practice passes quickly. Mr. Dimming announces the final team as Connor, Rose, Molly, Elena, Rodney, and Melody. Claire and Amanda are alternates and Claire is not happy. Mrs. V comes over in the evening to help Melody and her mother pack for their trip. Melody gets teary-eyed thinking about the trip. She can’t believe that it is actually going to happen. She thinks about Rose and the things they may do in D.C. She just wants to be like all the other girls. The Brooks family and Mrs. V head to the airport in the morning to get Melody and her mother on their flight. At check-in, an airline employee informs them that their flight has been canceled due to bad weather. There are no other flights to get them to the destination in time for the competition. When Melody’s mother asks about the rest of the quiz team, they find out that the group had gone out to breakfast and arrived at the airport very early. They caught the last flight out before cancellations began. Melody, her family, and Mrs. V are confused and upset that no one called them and that they left Melody behind. Knowing there is nothing else they can do, they go home.
Summary: Chapter 29
At home, Melody cries while her mind is buzzing with questions about why the team left her behind. She feels like they left her on purpose, which angers her and makes her want to stomp, but she can’t. Penny comes into her room and snuggles with her, which makes her feel a little bit better. Her parents try to get Melody to eat but she is not hungry. The phone rings and Melody realizes her mother is talking to Mr. Dimming. In a very stern tone, her mother tells him she doesn’t understand why they weren’t called. She listens and then replies that they could have been at the airport earlier. She adds that this has been devastating to Melody. He then seems to imply that he will make it up to Melody, which further agitates her mother causing her to hang up the phone. Melody’s mother pulls Melody onto her lap, consoling Melody and rocking her until she eventually falls asleep.
Analysis: Chapters 27–29
Melody’s teammates’ coldness toward her when her picture appears in the paper foreshadows her exclusion from the trip to Washington, D.C. Although her parents say that her friends will be proud that the paper featured her, Melody’s conflicts with her classmates escalate. Melody is keenly perceptive, and she correctly guesses that her classmates’ attitude toward her will change for the worse, anticipating their jealousy of her photo being in the paper. Even Rose is unhappy at being overshadowed by Melody, and Rose’s whispering with Claire and Molly suggests that Rose is allying herself with them now, instead of with Melody. Her teammates’ response indicates their discomfort with having Melody on their team. Melody believes they are embarrassed at the idea of her appearing with them on the national stage. The tension in this chapter underscores the idea that Melody is not truly accepted as a full member of the team, foreshadowing her exclusion from the national competition.
As the trip to Washington approaches, the narrative shifts into a dramatic style, making the events of the story feel heightened. While Melody still mentions some of her feelings as events play out, much of the story is told through dialogue. Mr. Dimming, Claire, Mom, Dad, Penny, and Mrs. V all speak in this short section, widening the lens through which the reader views the story. The reader has a chance to see how the planned trip affects not only Melody but all the people who surround her. Melody’s parents’ conversation with the airline ticket agent reveals that the team has left Melody behind. The pace of the revelation creates a feeling of suspense and dread in both Melody and the reader, first in understanding that something has gone wrong with the plan, and then that the team has gone ahead without her, and finally that it is impossible for Melody to get to the competition on time.
Melody’s parents react to her exclusion from the trip with anger, underscoring how they are sometimes powerless to protect their daughter from being left out and hurt. For most of the book, they respond to challenges by supporting Melody and advocating for her, but in this instance, there’s nothing they can do to help. Melody’s father usually reacts to other frustrations mildly, but at the airport, he punches a wall. This drastic departure from his normal behavior shows how furious he is on Melody’s behalf. When Mr. Dimming calls the house, Melody’s mother grips the phone so hard that veins stand out on her hand. She does not accept his excuses and ultimately hangs up on him, throwing the phone in frustration. Just as Melody’s physical explosions often result from her feelings of powerlessness, her parents’ anger reveals how pained and infuriated they are that their love, determination, and advocacy aren’t always enough to protect Melody from being excluded due to her disability.