Kimberly - A smart girl who is willing to work hard to help her Ma and still devote time to school. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with the other kids, but she knows that doesn’t matter when it comes to math and science, and those are the things that can provide her a better life. Her culture becomes half Chinese and half American as she tries to find her identity.
Ma - She gave up a life in Hong Kong in order to try to provide a better life for her daughter. Once a music teacher, she now spends all her time working in the factory for pennies, just trying to find a way for them both to survive. She is kind and understanding, but still not able to move past the culture she grew up with.
Aunt Paula - Ma’s sister. She brings them to America, but holds the debt over them both and forces them to live in a rundown apartment. She’s jealous of all Kim accomplishes and tries to hold her back.
Nelson - Kim’s cousin who is cruel to her.
Uncle Bob - Aunt Paula’s husband. He owns the factory. He is kind when they speak, but he is not seen often.
Mr. Bogart - Kim’s first teacher. He was not very helpful in terms of helping her adjust.
Matt - A boy around Kim’s age who also helps out in the factory. Later she falls in love with him and they date.
Park - Matt’s mentally challenged younger brother.
Annette - A frizzy-haired girl who was nice to Kim in Mr. Bogart’s class. She becomes Kim’s best friend, but always has trouble understanding the differences in their lives.
Tyrone - The smartest boy in Kim’s first class, despite being from the ghetto.
Mrs. Avery - Annette’s mom. She helps Kim and Ma find an apartment.
Mr. Al - A neighborhood shop owner. He moves away when the block looks like it might be demolished.
Luke - The class bully of Mr. Bogart’s class. He had been left back multiple times. He’s the first boy to have a crush on Kim.
Mrs. LaGuardia - Kim’s first principal who helps her get into Harrison.
Dr. Weston - The principal at Harrison. She helps Kim through her time in high school.
Mr. Jamali - The theater teacher at Harrison. He is from Pakistan.
Curt - A student at Harrison who stands up for Kim and turns to her for help when he’s in danger of flunking out.
Tammy - A student at Harrison who causes Kim to be accused of cheating.
Jason - Kim’s son.