Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead!
open/close all folders
Melinda SordinoThe protagonist, a high school freshman who's been branded as a social outcast due to calling the police during a party in the summer where she had been raped.
- Author Avatar: As the novel was based on Laurie Anderson's personal experiences of having been raped as a teenager and the trauma she faced, Melinda is naturally this.
- Break the Cutie: Starts off already broken and much of the story is dedicated to her attempts at recovering.
- Broken Bird: She was once a cheerful and sociable straight-B student before the rape. Afterward, she becomes withdrawn and miserable, her academic performance suffering as a result. Making it worse is that she refuses to fully acknowledge what has happened to her due to her guilt.
- The Cassandra: When she tries to tell her former friend Rachel about Andy's sinister intentions and Rachel doesn't believe her.
- Character Development: Over the course of the book, Melinda eventually finds the strength to open up, reveal her dark secret, accept what has happened to her, and is slowly able to start recovering from her trauma.
- Deadpan Snarker: Very much so.
- Stepford Snarker: A large part of her dark sarcasm stems from her emotional pain and trauma.
- Good Victims, Bad Victims: A self-inflicted example. Part of what hampers Melinda's ability to recover and move on is her refusal to fully acknowledge what happened to her on that fateful night because she blames herself for not being able to see straight away that Andy was taking advantage of her (never mind that she was barely 14 years old at the time and was more than a bit tipsy on top of that).
- Nice Girl: Despite her prickly demeanor, Melinda is ultimately a compassionate person.
- The Quiet One: After the rape, she becomes withdrawn and barely speaks to anyone.
- Self-Harm: Her lip-biting. In a few instances, she makes herself bleed doing this.
- With Friends Like These...: Rachel abandoned her after she called the police to the end of summer party. Heather also takes advantage of Melinda's talents in order to get noticed by the popular clique of girls, and ultimately drops her like a hot potato when she had reached her goal.
Andy EvansMelinda's rapist, a popular jock at Merryweather High.
- Big Bad: Being Melinda's rapist and a serial sexual predator.
- Faux Affably Evil: Puts on the front of a Big Man on Campus to hide his sinister intentions.
- For the Evulz: He clearly enjoys the fear that he instills into Melinda, making it his goal of reminding her about what he had done to her.
- Handsome Lech: Notorious for sleeping around with several girls. However, the further that we get into the novel, it is revealed that he is not just that.
- Hate Sink: He's an unrepentant predator who takes advantage of his good looks and superficial charm to get what he wants while escaping culpability.
- Insane Troll Logic: In the climax, when he corners Melinda in the janitor's closet, Andy tries to claim that all of the other girls he had assaulted and/or harassed were practically asking for it, so therefore, he is not a rapist.
- It's All About Me: He isn't happy when Rachel calls him out as a predator in front of everyone during prom and claims that he could get any girl he wants to sleep with him willingly as a feeble attempt at dispelling Melinda's accusations.
- Jerk Jock: A very dark example.
- Karma Houdini: Downplayed. It's revealed in the sequel Catalyst that while at most he gets a slap on the wrist (and no jail time) for what he had done to Melinda as well as to other girls, he is still made to register as a sex offender and the assault is permanently on his record, so he didn't get off completely unscathed.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While there are plenty of bullies and other assorted jerks at Merryweather High, he's the worst of the bunch. Indeed, when Rachel publicly called him out for his predatory behavior at the prom in full view of several people, that was the first blow to his reputation.
- Serial Rapist: The Bathroom Stall Graffiti in the girls' restroom reveals that Melinda wasn't Andy's first victim, nor would she have been the last.
- Slasher Smile: Sported one while raping Melinda at the party.
- The Sociopath: Is manipulative, superficially charismatic, values his reputation above all else, and is completely remorseless of how he had raped and harassed female students.
- Teens Are Monsters: While most of the adolescents bully Melinda, Andy is ultimately the worst that the school has to offer.
- Villainous Breakdown: Angrily confronts Melinda in the janitor's closet and attempts to rape her again out of revenge for ruining his reputation.
HeatherThe new girl at school who befriends Melinda briefly.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: She wanted to be part of the popular clique, but when she gets her wish, it turns out it wasn't as great as she thought it would be.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She seems like a friendly person but is really a manipulative and self-serving backstabber.
- The B Grade: Her grades slip to B's when she's stuck having to do all the menial "gopher" jobs for the Marthas.
- Entitled Bitch: Despite dropping Melinda the moment things were looking up for her, Heather still felt that Melinda would help her with the prom decorations by trying to appeal to her friendship with her. Needless to say, Melinda refuses.
- False Friend: While it was never that genuine to begin with and only came about due to convenient circumstances, she initially began as Melinda's only friend due to being the new girl at school (and thus, had no knowledge of the police call Melinda made), but she had bigger aspirations. When the opportunity to become part of a more popular clique reared its head, she jumps at the chance and severs her ties with Melinda.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Ditching Melinda as soon as The Marthas invite her to join their clique comes back to bite her in the ass when she was assigned to help with decorations for the upcoming prom. Melinda refuses to help her, thus leaving Heather alone to do the decorating. Unsurprisingly, she does a terrible job with the decorations, leading to her being kicked out of the clique.
- New Transfer Student: She's the new girl at Merryweather High.
- Social Climber: Wants to be popular and cool.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Disappeared in the final chapter of the novel most likely as a result of hiding out due to the embarrassment she received for the bad job she did at the prom decorations.
Rachel BruinMelinda's former best friend.
- Ambiguous Situation: While the epilogue reveals that Rachel called and left Melinda a message to apologize to her, it is uncertain as to whether or not Melinda would forgive her, let alone on whether or not they can rekindle their friendship.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Tries to change her name to "Rachelle" because it sounds more sophisticated.
- False Friend: Knew Melinda for years, only to disassociate herself with her when Melinda called the police.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: Once high school starts, she hangs out with the European exchange students, tries to speak French more (as well as being shown planning out a trip to Paris for summer vacation), and starts going out with a boy from Portugal after breaking up with Andy.
- My God, What Have I Done?: She has this when she realizes that Melinda was telling the truth when Andy makes her uncomfortable with his hot and heavy behavior at the prom.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Once high school starts and she begins hanging out with the European exchange students, she becomes arrogant and insufferable. Ivy even disparagingly calls her a bitch while venting about her to Melinda.
Another former friend of Melinda's who joined the artists' clique.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's not clear exactly what her relationship with Melinda was before the fateful party, especially since she wasn't there when Melinda called the police, as it's not spelled out if she was avoiding Melinda because she's unpopular or if they were friends and drifted apart. Given the friendly interactions that she has with Melinda later on, as well as her distaste with Rachel's increasingly haughty attitude, it's possibly the former.
- Meaningful Appearance: Wears multiple colored Sharpies in her bun as a reflection of her artistic personality.
- Nice Girl: As we find out later on.
- True Companions: Later in the story, when she and Melinda begin genuinely rebuilding their friendship, especially in comparison to Melinda's relationships with Rachel and Heather.
Another former member of Melinda's old clique of friends, the Plain Janes, who became a jock.
- Ambiguous Situation: Like Ivy, it isn't really clear as to whether she was avoiding Melinda because the latter is a social outcast or if she was avoiding her due to being wrapped up in her own life.
- Big Damn Heroes: Is the one to break the closet door down with her teammates to find Andy trying to rape Melinda in the climax.
- Defeat Means Friendship: A downplayed example during her and Melinda's tennis match - although Melinda lost, it was a close game and Melinda earns Nicole's respect as a result.
- Even the Girls Want Her: She seems to be admired by other girls for her athletic prowess.
- Lovable Jock: Is a tough and competitive athlete, but is otherwise a good person.
- Odd Friendship: The best way to describe her friendship with Melinda later on.
- Passionate Sports Girl: She's good at sports, displaying a talent with tennis and lacrosse.
David PetrakisMelinda's classmate and lab partner. He's one of the few people that don't ostracize her.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's a nice guy but he's hardly a doormat. When Mr. Neck goes off on a xenophobic rant during the middle of class, David is among those who is not afraid to stand up against this.
- Hollywood Nerd: A mild example - he's a good student but does have a decent social circle and doesn't appear to be picked on by anyone.
- Implied Love Interest: Vaguely implied. It's more prominent in the book, with a few cute moments on Valentine's Day and a mention that David watches her when he thinks she doesn't notice. For rather understandable reasons, though, it never really goes anywhere beyond a friendship.
- Nice Guy: He's the one of the few people who's actually nice to Melinda from the start and doesn't care about what happened at the party.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Gives Melinda a pep-talk after her attempt to get some extra credit in Social Studies class goes badly, encouraging her to speak up for herself.
The MarthasA group of girls at Melinda's school that follow everything Martha Stewart related. The three senior members are named Meg, Emily, and Siobhan. Heather joins them later on, but quickly sees that a membership isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
- Alpha Bitches: They're pretty popular but are not very nice.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The way Melinda perceives them. Going by their treatment of Heather, she wasn't entirely off the mark, as they appear nice, friendly, and charitable, but are actually pretty mean.
- Girl Posse: An all-female clique of rich girls.
- Villain with Good Publicity: They are all pretty catty and cruel but their charity work and helping out on projects gives them a good image.
Mr. FreemanMelinda's dramatic and eccentric art teacher.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Downplayed but he's quite eccentric.
- Cool Teacher: For the most part, he plays this role to Melinda, as he lets her be herself in his class, but, generally, he regards his students as people and so treats them as such.
- The Confidant: To Melinda, later on.
- Hippie Teacher: This is more apparent in the movie but the way he teaches his class makes him this.
- Nice Guy: Without a doubt, as he's one of the few teachers that genuinely get through to Melinda.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Some art teachers (and students) might be put off by Melinda's art projects but he's more accepting and patient with her, encouraging her to open up and letting her trauma out.
Mr. NeckMelinda's history and social studies teacher.
- Jerkass: Less so than the other characters but he's one for his politics and how he teaches his class.
- Politically Motivated Teacher: Much of his lessons tend to involve some of his own personal politics and biases. It's clear he doesn't much care for immigration and he's quick to shoe-horn them into his lessons.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: "Villain" may be putting it on strong, but his xenophobic viewpoints are hardly savory.
HairwomanMelinda's English teacher whose hair covers her face.
- Blinding Bangs: It can be inferred that she has these, as the reason she's called "Hairwoman" is because of whatever hairdo she has covers her face.
- Cool Teacher: She tries to be this but she fails and her students find her boring or annoying at best.
- The Faceless: Well, she has a face, her hair just covers it.
- Important Haircut: In the chapter aptly titled "Hairwoman No More", she cuts it short and gets new glasses as well. Melinda even wonders if she had some big lifestyle change to prompt this.
- No Name Given: She's only called "Hairwoman".
- What Do You Mean Its Not Didactic: In-Universe, she is obsessed with every little possible symbol that can be found in The Scarlet Letter.
Ms. KeenMelinda's Biology teacher.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In the sense that she's one of the few teachers that gets through to Melinda, though not directly.
The principal of Melinda's school
The Guidance Counselor
The guidance counselor that tries to help Melinda with her trauma.
- Adults Are Useless: She cannot really help because she doesn't really understand. She tries but fails, as she's a guidance counselor and not a therapist.
- No Name Given: She's referred to as her job.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: She tries to help and can see that something is seriously troubling Melinda, but she doesn't quite have the ability to help a student with problems like Melinda's.
Mom and Dad
- Adults Are Useless: Melinda seems to think so, as they haven't gotten their daughter any help since her rape and Mom thinks that Melinda's behavior is a cry for attention, not necessarily help, while Dad sort of gets the idea. However, this is invoked because she hasn't told them what happened (or the full depth of what happened).
- Awful Wedded Life: Their marriage isn't a happy one, however, this is mostly due to the strain of not knowing how to help their daughter and the differing natures of their jobs.
- Parents as People: They do care about their daughter but, due to their obliviousness, they don't really see that Melinda needs help.
- Unnamed Parent: Besides their last name, their first names aren't given. In the movie, the mother is named Joyce and supplementary materials name the father Jack.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Mom works a lot and is often busy at her job managing a clothing store, while Dad sells insurance and gets more freedom.