Melinda Sordino

A thirteen-year-old high school freshman and the novel’s protagonist. Melinda’s biting sarcasm and observant mind quickly pick up on the unstated rules of high school, but trauma from an incident in her past relegates her to a position as a social outcast. Isolated from her friends and family, she must find her place in the world without much support. Intelligent, athletic, and wise beyond her years, Melinda comes of age while healing from trauma.

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David Petrakis

Melinda’s lab partner. Ambitious and friendly, David impresses Melinda by speaking up for himself to the overbearing teacher who strikes fear in her. Unlike Melinda, David has supportive parents who defend him against unfair school policies. David’s career goals change weekly because he has so much potential.

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Mr. Freeman

A teacher at Merryweather High School. While most of the school’s teachers are aloof, uncaring, and absurd, Mr. Freeman represents the opposite—a genuine, caring adult who truly wants to help young people learn how to deal with life. While several adults in the story question why Melinda won’t speak, Mr. Freeman lets her know through his words and actions that he really wants to listen.

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Mom and Dad

Melinda’s parents, who are largely absent from the novel. They are well-meaning but busy parents who love Melinda but don’t know how to help her. Mom owns a clothing store in the city and Dad sells insurance. The family speaks mostly through notes left on the counter. They are frustrated by Melinda’s silence and behavior mostly because it’s a distraction from their busy lives.

Rachel Bruin

Melinda’s former best friend who was with her on the night of the attack. During freshman year, Rachel begins calling herself Rachelle, hanging out with foreign exchange students, and ignoring Melinda.


A new student from Ohio who struggles to fit in and befriends Melinda. Heather cares more about being accepted than finding true connection and friendship.

Andy Evans (“IT”)

A popular senior who breaks rules openly and is known to be a creep with girls. It is eventually revealed that Andy raped Melinda at a party.

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An old friend of Melinda's. Melinda and Ivy bond over their art projects in Mr. Freeman’s class. Both girls don’t initially embrace their assignments but must learn how to work with them.


An old friend of Melinda’s who excels at all sports and is also a nice, genuine, and well-liked person.

Mr. Neck

A tough social studies teacher with a gray buzz cut and a whistle around his big neck.


An English teacher who transforms her look throughout the year and teaches students about symbolism.

Brendan Keller

A very tall basketball player who "can’t make a free-throw to save his life" and bullies Melinda.