5. “Namasté” (The God in me sees and honors the God in you).

Melba ends her book with this quotation, a Sanskrit prayer of acceptance and peace in Chapter 28. Namasté literally means, “I bow to you.” A form of greeting in India, it supposes that there is a divine spark (or God) in every human being. When a person bows with his hands in a prayer position at his heart, he recognizes that the divine spark within him is also in every other person around him. Because Melba has lived through so much anger and hatred, the prayer with which she closes her story of struggle and hatred is a profoundly respectful one. It is a message to her readers that, more than anything else, she’s learned that all people have divinity in them, regardless of their color. By extending this gesture of peace and acceptance to her readers, she extends her message to the world.

For Melba, this prayer is a means of understanding the trauma of her year at Central High School. She is no longer a girl who simply wants people to like her. She has become an adult, toughened by life and her experiences at Central but also able to forgive the world for its cruelty towards her. Because of her time at Central, Melba knows the significance of her closing prayer. Until people learn to recognize both human and divine attributes in themselves and others, peace will be impossible. The prayer is not just for forgiveness; it is also Melba’s hope for the world.