thoughtful friend, whose first-person narratives open and close
the novel. Carmen is the most introspective of the four girls, and
she recognizes the importance of their friendship more clearly than
the other girls do. Half Puerto Rican and half white, Carmen lives
with her mother, Christina. Her plans for spending a summer with
her father, Albert, in South Carolina are ruined when she discovers
that Albert is engaged to a woman with two teenage children, all
of them blond.
- The rebellious, sarcastic friend who learns valuable
life lessons thanks to her young friend, Bailey. Tibby is the only
friend who stays home in Bethesda, Maryland, for the summer, and
she has a healthy dose of scorn ready for all the people from her
hometown, whom she sees as ridiculous losers. She spends her time working
at Wallman’s and working on her documentary with Bailey. Tibby eventually
learns to look beyond people’s exteriors and see what’s inside.
- The athletic, daring friend who spends the summer
at soccer camp in Baja California, Mexico. Bridget is impulsive,
courageous, and a little reckless, but her extroversion and high
spirits help her to make friends easily. She’s an ace soccer player,
but she can sometimes be too aggressive, and she is often scolded for
not being a team player. Bridget falls in love with a coach named
Eric, an experience that leaves her devastated. Bridget’s mother
died (probably a suicide) many years ago.
shy, beautiful friend who travels to Oia, Greece, to spend the summer
with her grandparents. Lena is introverted and quiet, happiest when
she can spend time alone and paint. She distrusts all boys, certain
they like her only for her looks, and she automatically writes off
Kostos, the Greek boy her grandmother tries to set her up with.
Her inability to open up to people leads her to make a confusing
mess out of an unexpected encounter she has with Kostos. Fearing
she’ll be alone forever, she eventually forces herself to tell Kostos
she likes him.
mother, who works as a legal secretary. Though Carmen fights with
her a lot, Christina is always there for her and helps Carmen to
understand why she’s unwilling to get mad at her father.
father. Albert failed to tell Carmen he was engaged and that he’d
moved to a new house, thinking it’d be best to tell her in person.
However, his efforts to spare Carmen pain actually make things worse.
He doesn’t know how to communicate effectively with Carmen, preferring
instead to just pretend everything is okay.
fiancée and Carmen’s soon-to-be stepmother. Lydia is obsessed with
planning her wedding, because she didn’t have a real wedding the
first time around. Her ex-husband is a recovering alcoholic. Lydia
does her best to be kind to Carmen, but she struggles to truly connect
sixteen-year-old daughter and Carmen’s soon-to-be stepsister. Krista
struggles with geometry and eventually accepts Carmen’s help. She
has no contact with her father.
eighteen-year-old son and Carmen’s soon-to-be stepbrother. Paul
rarely speaks, but he proves to be a friend of sorts to Carmen.
He visits his father, a recovering alcoholic, every month.
- Paul’s mean, skinny girlfriend.
- A twelve-year-old girl with leukemia. Bailey collapses
in Wallman’s one day, and Tibby rides in the ambulance with her
to the hospital. Feisty, persistent, and wise beyond her years,
Bailey befriends Tibby and helps her lose some of her biting, sarcastic
ways. Bailey, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was seven years
old, dies at the end of the novel.
Mrs. Robin Graffman
- Bailey’s mother. Mrs. Graffman is grateful to Tibby
for making Bailey’s summer so much fun.
Nicky and Katherine
- Tibby’s young brother and sister.
housekeeper and babysitter for Tibby’s siblings.
boss at Wallman’s. Duncan is a stickler for the rules of the workplace.
Wallman’s employee with super-long fingernails. Angela and Bailey
become friends without Tibby’s realizing it, and Tibby feels bad
for judging Angela and for not seeing beyond her nails.
ticket taker at the movie theater who can recite movie dialogue
by heart. Margaret seems to Tibby like someone worthy of ridicule,
but she’s actually very lonely.
video game lover who’s obsessed with Dragon Master
Brian is the first person Tibby interviews for her film. Although
she had written him off as a loser, she eventually befriends him
and realizes he may have a lot to teach her about happiness.
teenager in Tibby’s hometown whom Tibby has a crush on. Tucker seems
to be interested in Tibby, but Bailey shows Tibby that Tucker isn’t
worth her time.
Greek boy whom Lena’s grandmother selects as a perfect match for
Lena. Kostos is handsome and kind, and he was raised in Greece after
his parents and brother were killed in a car accident in the United States.
When Kostos accidentally sees Lena skinny-dipping, Lena thinks he
was spying on her, and she inadvertently suggests to her grandparents
that Kostos attacked her. Kostos is in love with Lena, and they
kiss before she leaves Greece.
- Lena’s fourteen-year-old sister. Effie is charming and
talkative, often relieving the awkwardness that comes from Lena’s
shyness. She is a shameless flirt and dates a waiter named Andreas
- Lena’s grandmother. A warm, loving woman and an excellent
cook, Grandma wants nothing more than for Lena to fall in love with
Grandpa Karagolis (Bapi)
- Lena’s grandfather. A quiet man who doesn’t speak
English, Grandpa is actually more like Lena than any other member
of the family. He and Lena bond during their silent breakfasts.
- A coach
at Bridget’s soccer camp. Bridget develops an intense crush on Eric
even though coach/camper relationships are forbidden. He falls for
her too but regrets it when he and Bridget become intimate. He can’t
get over their age difference and feels guilty for giving in to
team coach at soccer camp. Molly recognizes Bridget’s talent but
often chastises her for not being a team player.
Diana, Ollie, Emily, Rosie
- Bridget’s friends at soccer camp.