Aza Holmes

A lower-middle-class high school student living in Indianapolis and the novel’s protagonist. Her father died unexpectedly when she was eight. Aza spends a significant amount of time wondering if she is fictional and struggles with profound anxiety, specifically an obsession with C. diff., and OCD. Aza’s fear of bacteria causes her thoughts to spiral, and this sends her into frequent panics. While she struggles with her anxiety, she and her best friend Daisy investigate the disappearance of local billionaire Russell Pickett.

Daisy Ramirez

A student at White River High School and Aza’s best friend. Daisy is funny and outgoing. She loves Star Wars and writes fanfiction about Chewbacca’s love life. Her stories are popular, and she enjoys reading and replying to readers’ comments. She does her best to support Aza and comes up with the plan to locate information on the whereabouts of Russell Pickett so they can collect the reward money.

Davis Pickett Jr.

A potential love interest for Aza. Davis is the only person who sees the world as she does. His mother died when he was a child, and he first met Aza at a camp for children who have lost a parent. He is a sensitive “rich kid” who writes poetry. His father, Russell Davis Pickett Sr., owns the largest engineering firm in Indianapolis and mysteriously disappears after he is accused of fraud. Davis is left to care for his younger brother.

Aza’s Mom

Aza’s widowed mother and a math teacher at White River High School. While she encourages Aza to go to therapy and take her medication, she does not understand Aza’s anxiety. Her suggestions to just not think about the thoughts that trigger Aza’s spirals come from a place of genuine concern but also make Aza feel worse at times. She and Aza have a close relationship.

Dr. Singh

A therapist who treats Aza for her anxiety. She tells Aza that her mental illness is not uncommon and encourages her to remember that her thoughts are just thoughts and they do not control her. She supports Aza after Aza’s mental breakdown.

Noah Pickett

A troubled thirteen-year-old and Davis’s younger brother. After his father disappears, he becomes depressed and acts out at school. He sends Aza the notes from his father’s iPhone and asks her to keep looking for information on his whereabouts.

Russell Pickett

A well-known and successful businessman. He is a billionaire who mysteriously disappears before the start of the novel. He is Davis and Noah’s absent father and is generally disliked.


A female tuatara, which is a primitive reptile species. She and the foundation responsible for her care are set to inherit all of Russell Pickett’s fortune.

Mychal Turner

A student at White River High School and a friend of Aza and Daisy. He is a talented artist and is Daisy’s boyfriend for a short time.


Aza’s father. He died, presumably of a heart attack, several years before the start of the novel. He enjoyed using his cell phone camera to take pictures of the sky through tree branches. Aza’s mom believes he would have understood Aza’s anxiety.