Made by Kenza

Marie- Marie is the protagonist of the story. She is African-American, and she has lived life well. Her dad is a single parent, because her mother left them when she was young. Her mom sometimes sends postcards to them, but never bothers to leave a return address. Marie is confused as to why her mother left. She isn't really close to her father because he never talks to her or touches her, even to give her a kiss goodnight. Marie forms a strong friendship with Lena when they discover they are both motherless children.

"Is she ever coming back?"
He shrugged.
"Did you make her go?" I asked, staring at the postcard. "Did you make Mama leave here?"
"She had to leave, Marie," he said.
"But she lives here, Daddy." (Woodson pg 46)

Wordle: Marie

Painted by Kenza
- Lena is the other main character of the story. She is a poor white girl who lives in the poor white neighborhood across the river from the rich, black neighborhood in Chauncey, Ohio She attends an almost all African-American school, and she lives with her father and sister because her mother died. Lena moves around from place to place often because of her father. He sexually abuses her. She is very secretive about this and doesn’t want it to be known, because she wants her family to stay together. Once in a while, the CPS will get suspicious of her father, and the family must move. Lena is not the cleanest of people. Her clothes are old, oversized, and dirty. On a normal day she might be wearing an oversized man’s tee-shirt that hadn’t been washed for a couple of weeks with a pair of old and raggedy jeans. The only time she takes a shower is when her and her sister go over to Marie’s house. She is embarrassed and annoyed when Marie points out the fact that she doesn’t smell very nice. She usually wears her hair in a loose braid. People often say that Lena talks like a black person. Despite her looks on the outside, Lena is caring and accepts all kinds of people, even as a close friend.

"So you think we still gonna be friends?"
"I doubt it," I said. "How come you want to be friends with a black girl, anyway? You should make friends with the white kids at Chauncey."
"Because of our mothers," Lena said. "There's stuff we can talk about." She bit her lip again and held it underneath her top teeth. "About what it's like. White, black--it shouldn't make no difference. We all just people here."
"But it does make a difference," I said.
"But why it got to?" (Woodson pg. 58)

Wordle: Lena

Dion- Dion is Lena's little sister. She is full of energy and is usually very hyper. Dion is a young kid who's had a tough life, but she still manages to laugh. Lena always feels responsible for her and hurries her along to be sure nothing happens to her sister.

"I got chills and fevers," Dion said. "I was puking like Niagara Falls."
I laughed. Dion's face seemed sweeter than Lena's, more trusting. But the minutes she opened her mouth, you'd think she'd lived a thousand years. She had Lena's gravelly voice. (Woodson Pg. 61)

Sherry- Sherry is Marie's friend at the beginning of the book. She is African-American, and she's your typical popular girl. Everyone wants to be her friend, even though she can be really mean. She doesn't approve of Lena and Marie's friendship.

"Sherry and I had been best friends a long time, and now I realized it was because I was too afraid to ever be anything else. Girls flocked around her, clinging to her every word. Not because what she said was so profound but because of the way she walked, dressed, wore her hair." (Woodson pg 34)

Marie's Father- He is a well-off man who tries to give Marie a good life. However, he is still greiving over his wife who left him. He has changed since then, and he's been more serious and awkward than before. He hasn't really had a great relationship with his daughter ever since his wife left them.

"Now my father was the one running every faucet so that the water gushed hard into the bathtub and sink to drown out his crying. I crept through the house listening, wanting to hear how people grieved when the absence they were hurting over wasn't caused by death. So I listened to my father and realized that you cry at night when you think no one is listening." (Woodson pg. 24)

Lena's Father He is a sexually abusive father. After the death of Lena's father, he didn't really know what to do with himself, so he started to sexually abuse his own daughter. Lena tells Marie that he tries to be a good dad, and do things with them, like taking them to basketball games. However, Lena says she does not love her father.

"What's your daddy like, Lena?" I asked. "Do you still love him?"
I turned back to her and leaned so close, I could feel her breath against my forehead. Lena squeesed my finger.
"I got to love him," she said hoarsely.
Lena's head moved slightly against a rhythm only she could hear. "Because if I don't, that only leaves me and Dion. And what if somethin' happens to her? Then it's only me... stupid, whitetrash me." (Woodson pg.76)
Drawn by Laura: a picture of the two friends marie and lena...walking home to Marie's house

Works Cited:

Woodson, Jacqueline. I Hadn't Meant to Tell You this. USA: Penguin Group, 1994.