Day Three: Speak: Third Marking Period

April 11, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Speak | 3 Comments

Third Marking Period.

Still winter. Missed the bus. First time to skip school.

“I should probably tell someone, just tell someone. Get it over with. Let it out, blurt it out.”

“I want to be in fifth grade again. Now, that is a deep dark secret, almost as big as the other one. Fifth grade was easy–old enough to play outside without Mom, too young to go off the block. The perfect leash length.”

I don’t know that I’d think fifth grade was perfect. But I get what she’s saying. Some days you DO wish for simpler times. One of the reasons John Mayer’s 83 is one of my theme song, my anthem.

“Code Breaking” is a great section. I just love this bit:

“It’s Nathaniel Hawthorne Month in English. Poor Nathaniel. Does he know what they’ve done to him? We are reading the Scarlet Letter one sentence at a time, tearing it up and chewing on its bones.

It’s all about SYMBOLISM, says Hairwoman. Every word chosen by Nathaniel, every comma, every paragraph break–these were all done on purpose. To get a decent grade in her class, we have to figure out what he was really trying to say. Why couldn’t he just say what he meant? Would they pin scarlet letters on his chest? B for blunt, S for straightforward?” (100)

And a bit further on, “I wonder if Hester tried to say no. She’s kind of quiet. We would get along. I can see us, living in the woods, her wearing that A, me with an S maybe, S for Silent, for stupid, for scared. S for silly. For shame.” (101)

Mr. Freeman’s nervous breakdown? Is he mirroring Melinda’s emotional state?

“Nothing good ever happens at lunch. The cafeteria is a giant sound stage where they film daily segments of Teenage Humiliation Rituals. And it smells gross.” (104)

Heather breaks up with her. She wants to be with the Marthas, and sees Melinda as baggage, as weighing her down.

Heather at least is observant: “You don’t like anything. You are the most depressed person I’ve ever met, and excuse me for saying this, but you are no fun to be around and I think you need professional help.”

She doesn’t have much tact. But she’s observant. Why aren’t her teachers and her parents noticing that she is DEPRESSED and needing help?!

Though a few pages later, in “Clash of the Titans” we see a conference Principal Principal has with her parents where the focus isn’t on her emotional and mental well being but on her grades and her skipping some classes. We get to hear from her parents firsthand now. The meeting leaves Melinda feeling confused, “Do they choose to be so dense? Were they born that way? I have no friends. I have nothing. I say nothing. I am nothing.” (116)

As a reward for her semi-good behavior, Melinda gets to go shopping. You can tell how thrilled she is. She was supposed to ride the bus to her mom’s store. But her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, gives her a lift instead. They actually have a conversation. Melinda is shocked. She’s actually able to speak to him without clamming up.

“Me: “All right, but you said we had to put emotion into our art. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.” My fingers fly up and cover my mouth. What am I doing?” (122)

“Hall of Mirrors” is nice. “I just need to hang on long enough for my new skin to graft. Mr. Freeman thinks I need to find my feelings. How can I not find them? They are chewing me alive like an infestation of thoughts, shame, mistakes. I squeeze my eyes shut. . . I will make myself normal. Forget the rest of it.” (125)

Melinda is now eating alone since Heather dumped her. “There is a sprinkling of losers like me scattered among the happy teenagers, prunes in the oatmeal of school. The others have the social power to sit with other losers. I’m the only one sitting alone, under the glowing neon sign which reads, “Complete and Total Loser, Not Quite Sane. Stay Away. Do Not Feed.” (128)

David is getting more friendly. But he isn’t pushing it.

The big reveal: “A Night To Remember”

It’s been obvious for a while now, but Melinda’s story does come out in full for the readers to digest all at once instead of in little scattered bits.

Remembering makes her bite her lip. Again. She’ll need stitches. Again.

Melinda’s not quite ready to share her story, but you can sense she’s getting nearer and nearer to the breaking point. Something is going to happen, you can sense it. She can’t go on like this.

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3 Comments »

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  1. I feel for this girl so much! She just can’t get a break. I think I’m going to end up finishing the book today :p I just can’t wait until next week. I had pretty much figured what the big reveal was going to be from the beginning. It’s so unfortunate that she has no one to turn too and now even her one “friend” has dumped her. Just imagine keeping everything…I mean EVERYTHING inside. A lot of us keep a lot of things inside, but I can’t imagine not letting anything at all out. I’m waiting for the big let out…I hope it comes.

  2. I’ll probably finish it up too. It was really hard to put it down. If I wasn’t the ‘leader’ I would have finished it last night. I’ll probably post a few days early. Maybe Monday. Or Sunday. Enough to give folks a chance to post comments on today’s reading.

    There is the movie version of this too, Chris. You might want to see it at some point.

  3. Oh cool! Didn’t know there was a movie version! *heads off to netflix*


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