When the school bus wheezes to the corner, the door opened, Melinda stood in the aisle and was already confused where to sit thinking about all the possibilities, thinking maybe if she sat in a certain spot one of her friends would try to talk to her. When everyone boards the bus, all she received were glares. The only way to not say anything, she closed her eyes and said, “This is what I have been dreading, I am the only person sitting alone.” (3)
The very first day of school, Melinda says nothing positive. She comes into realization of everyone falling into clans then she says, “I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don’t have anyone to sit with. I am outcast.”(4) The minute she enters school she loses her confidence. Seeing the clans, seeing her ex-friends laugh at her, she turns around “It’s Rachel, surrounded by a bunch of kids wearing clothes that most definitely did not come from the EastSide Mall.” (4) Words climbed up her throat, her throat burns but yet lacking the self-confidence to stick up for herself she says nothing. During lunch she is edgy, she wants to make sure she is invisible. These are her words, “Buying lunch is the only solution, it gives me time to scan the cafeteria for a friendly face or an inconspicuous corner.”(7) The way Melinda feels and acts through the first part of the novel is understandable and usually that’s the exact way a normal freshman would act.
During the second marking period, Melinda explains, “It’s getting harder to talk, my throat is always sore, my lips raw.” (50) She gets nervous around everyone else but sometimes with Heather her mouth relaxes. She can’t talk to a parent or teacher without sputtering or freezing. “I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy, confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else.” (51) Melinda says in frustration. The family tries to come together during Thanksgiving, but the effort is small and it doesn’t happen. Finally, her tree is getting somewhere as Mr. Freeman explains, “I see a girl caught in the remains of a holiday gone bad, with her flesh picked off day after day as the carcass dries out.” (64) Now Melinda is trying to speak through art, she just needs further depth. There are certain symbols throughout the novel, one is the frog Melinda has to dissect in biology class. Some things remind her of the past, “Our frog lies on her back, waiting for a prince to come and princessify her with a smooch, David spreads her frog legs and pins her feet.”(81) Still, she cannot handle certain situations that seem to overwhelm her.
Melinda and her mom start off the third marking period with a rather harsh conversation. It seems like Melinda is a bit selfish and her mom is unsympathetic. Melinda has no fear of skipping school and that is exactly what she does. Although, an encounter with IT ruins her day, with no confidence she just runs away. This time in art, Melinda’s tree is frozen, as is her life. Her life is frozen in time. Back to last summer, at the party. Heather decides her and Melinda can no longer be friends, which is probably the best thing for Melinda anyways, since they weren’t really friends. Melinda is still insecure at this point, she tries going shopping, “Eyes after eyes after eyes stare back at me, am I in there somewhere?” (124) At least now she is realizing she needs to become herself again.
Spring break, Melinda didn’t do much. She went to the mall, surprisingly made conversation with Ivy, an old friend. This lifted her spirits up. She starts converstation with many old friends. Towards the end of the novel Melinda reveals her tree to Mr. Freeman. This time, success was there. Mr. Freeman could tell Melinda grew with this experience and knew exactly what happened that summer night and why Melinda reacted the way she did.