Chapter 21 - The Marthas

Heather decides she wants to be part of the clan called The Marthas. Melinda is appalled, because it is such an expensive clan to run with. They only wear certain kinds of expensive clothes and they invest a lot of money in being a “helping” clan. They are just like Martha Stewart - very Connecticut, very prep.

Heather becomes a freshman on probation in this group and her first project is to decorate the faculty lounge for Thanksgiving. She begs Melinda for help and Melinda agrees, because she has never seen the inside of the faculty lounge. Unfortunately, it is a disappointing little room with dirty windows and stale cigarette smell. Melinda is supposed to make a centerpiece out of waxed maple leaves and other autumn décor while Heather sets the table and hangs a banner. Meanwhile, Melinda ruins everything with the glue gun. She is just not Martha material.

Heather rescues the decorations before Melinda can do permanent damage while telling her how exciting it is that the Marthas are letting her join. Melinda doesn’t have a chance to respond, because the Senior Marthas enter with food for the teachers. Heather gets Melinda out of the room by saying she was just helping her with her homework. Melinda stands outside the door and listens to the older girls question Heather about who Melinda is and tell Heather she’s creepy. They especially notice Melinda’s scabby lips. She retreats to the restroom to cry and wash her face until it seems like there’s nothing there - no nose, no mouth, no eyes, just a slick nothing.


The description of The Marthas is indicative of this entire clan system in Melinda’s school. You must try to fit in somewhere and the clan you belong to is a sign of acceptance. Without a clan, you have no place; you are Outcast - Melinda’s sorry state. The Marthas is a clan filled with rich snobs who have no use for Melinda. Their mean comments cut her to the quick and she sees herself as nothing, completely unseen, completely abandoned.

Chapter 22 - Nightmare

This is the first time that Melinda gives is a clue about what happened to her at the summer party. She sees someone in the hall whom she labels IT. IT is her nightmare from which she cannot awake. When IT sees her, IT smiles and winks. She thinks that it’s a good thing her lips are stitched together or she’d throw up.

The last part of the chapter is devoted to Melinda’s report card. Her grades are mostly C’s and D’s with the exception of Art in which she earns an A.


IT is the genderless name Melinda gives a tormenter. IT must be a boy, because he is walking with a cheerleader and winks when he sees her. We begin to wonder if Melinda had been assaulted or even raped by this boy. The fact that she gives him no gender helps her deal with what he did to her, but she still feels violently ill when she sees him. He torments her with his wink, as if they know a secret that no one else does.

Melinda’s grades reflect the torment she has suffered the entire grading period. They make us wonder if she has even lower to go or if she will rebound and bring herself peace. The fact that she receives an A in Art emphasizes how important that class is as a sanctuary for her emotional self.

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