Day Two: Speak: Second Marking Period

April 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Speak | 5 Comments

Back for part two.

First thing of importance, I noticed:

“It is getting harder to talk. My throat is always sore, my lips raw. When I wake up in the morning, my jaws are clenched so tight I have a headache. Sometimes my mouth relaxes around Heather, if we’re alone. Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze. What is wrong with me? It’s like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis.

I know my head isn’t screwed on straight. I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs. Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me. My closet is a good thing, a quiet place that helps me hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them.” (50-51)

Job Day. The test. The perky Heather. “How could she know this? I don’t know what I’m doing in the next five minutes and she has the next ten years figured out. I’ll worry about making it out of ninth grade alive. then I’ll think about a career path.” (53)

Mr. Neck and the First Amendment. Immigration is a ‘hot’ topic that even if it’s not in the forefront is always simmering on the back burner. Such is the case in the book. Regardless of what you believe on immigration, Mr. Neck is out of line by my reckoning. David Petrakis appears on Melinda’s radar as one of the good guys. “I make a note to study David Petrakis. I have never heard a more eloquent silence.”

Thanksgiving and Family Un-Togetherness. Comedy sketch. Pizza saves the day yet again. Mom is absent from the scene and the chaos.

Wishbone. This is always one of my favorite scenes. Melinda making an art project out of the turkey bones. Though the teacher is definitely weird, “Be the bird. You are the bird. Sacrifice yourself to abandoned family values and canned yams.” (62)

Several more classes, David is staying in her mind. Mr. Neck’s class. “David Petrakis is my hero.”

Winter Break. Christmas.

“I almost tell them right then and there. Tears flood my eyes. They noticed I’ve been trying to draw. They noticed. I try to swallow the snowball in my throat. This isn’t going to be easy. I’m sure they suspect I was at the party. Maybe they even heard about me calling the cops. But I want to tell them everything as we sit there by our plastic Christmas tree while the Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer video plays.” (72)

But she loses her courage.

Return to school. Melinda’s good at basketball. What else is she good at that we don’t know?

Heather-drama. Heather’s having difficulty fitting the Martha mold, and she wants Melinda’s help. Her artistic help.

Biology class. Dissecting frogs. Passing out. Needing Stitches.

Word work. English teachers assigning essays.

Her brief encounter with IT. She’s hanging up one of the poster’s she’s doing for Heather and her Martha-friends. “‘Freshmeat.’ That’s what IT whispers. IT found me again. I thought I could ignore IT. There are four hundred other freshmen in here, two hundred female. Plus all the other grades. But he whispers to me. I can smell him over the noise of the metal shop and I drop my poster and the masking tape and I want to throw up and I can smell him and I run and he remembers and he knows. He whispers in my ear.” (86)

In trouble with the parents.

We learn IT’s name: Andy Evans.

She’s sitting with Heather at lunch. Heather is sitting with the Marthas. Andy comes to flirt with Emily, one of the Martha group, while he flirts with her he plays with Melinda’s ponytail.

And thus we have it. The second marking period.

Enough details have leaked out now that you’ve probably guessed what Melinda’s going through and why Andy is an IT.

This portion is full of little vignettes of high school life. Family drama. School drama. Friend drama. What are you thinking so far? Are these little vignettes working for you? Do you feel they’re authentic? What’s your favorite scene so far?



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  1. […] April 2nd; First Marking Period; Roughly 3-46 Monday, April 7th; Second Marking Period; Roughly 49-92 Friday, April 11th; Third Marking Period; Roughly 95-137 […]

  2. The book is definitely getting deeper and darker as Melinda loses her ability to speak and seems to keep running into IT.

    I’m finding her high school experience in this section a bit harder to relate to. Except for those career tests. The ones that are supposed to give you meaningful information about what career you should pursue but come up with results so ridiculous that there’s no hope but for you to attempt to make that big decision on your own.

    I loved the Thanksgiving scene, too. That idea that one must be able to make and eat the turkey dinner with all the fixings in order to be an acceptable family is one my elders definitely buy into. And the turkey is never defrosted quite enough when my mom goes to cook it. We’ve never been driven to order pizza but there were some tense moments on the phone with the Butterball turkey emergency hotline.

    It’s so frustrating to me that all Melinda’s teachers and her parents seem to jump at the chance to yell at her about her bad grades and dismal attitude, but nobody seems to see how much she’s struggling and desperately needs help. Is it because she’s so good at hiding it or because they’re so good at ignoring her silent cries for help?

  3. It’s definitely working for me so far. I’m loving this book. I think it portrays life well for a typical teenager who’s going through things that she’s going through, though I don’t know if she’d have quite the attitude she has if this were real life. From what I’ve seen in counseling kids who have gone through some kind of trauma (which I’m guessing this is heading towards) and who have gone through the cruelty that she has endured, she holds up pretty well. Though maybe we’ll see a meltdown pretty soon. Totally agree with Megan about how frustrating it is that everyone jumps at her “bad grades” and “dismal attitude” when she really needs help. I don’t think her grades are bad at all for what she’s been through at the end of the second quarter. C’s are average. But in this society, we expect the best of the best! It really is sad that we are unable as a society to step back for a second and look at how our actions affect others sometimes. This book happens so much more in real life than people think. I wouldn’t have a job if it didn’t. And I’d be happy not to have a job if it would just go away.

  4. There are so many more important things in life (like mental and emotional health) that are so much more important than grades. And while grades do tend to reflect emotional/mental stress at times, it seems Melinda’s parents aren’t that intuitive about it. They should be asking why their daughter’s grades, why her behavior and attitudes have changed so dramatically over the last four or five months. (I think the book mentions her habits have changed. She’s sleeping more and more. I think she’s showing all the signs of depression.) And her physical appearance has changed as well. If her lips are always bleeding and scabbed up, you’d think they’d be clued in a little more. Maybe they’re afraid to ask WHY. Maybe they’re afraid to talk to their daughter because they might not like what they hear.

    It’s completely normal but at the same time strange just to get Melinda’s perspective on her parent’s insights. We see her parents only through Melinda’s eyes. So maybe her parents are concerned but Melinda isn’t seeing that concern. Or maybe they’re just awful parents. Reality doesn’t always mesh with perception. You can feel abandoned or neglected or unloved while at the same time being loved unconditionally. Sometimes your ‘receptors’ aren’t working to receive love and attention.


    My post is up, sorry it is late. It is just a little snippet of one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed this section of the book a lot better than the first marking period. It is getting funnier and darker at the same time.

    I think that the high school experience is pretty accurate and well written. I love how complete these little moments are.

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