Rashad is one of the two central characters in the book. He is a 17-year-old African-American junior at Springfield Central High. Under pressure from his father, David, he participates in ROTC, although he does… read analysis of Rashad Butler
Quinn is the other main character in the novel. He is white and a senior at Springfield Central High. His father was a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, and throughout the novel Quinn struggles… read analysis of Quinn Collins
Paul is Guzzo’s older brother. Like Guzzo, he is an “enormous,” powerfully-built white man. After Quinn’s father’s death, he promised to support Quinn and has acted as a father figure to him. Inspired… read analysis of Paul Galluzzo
David is Rashad and Spoony’s father and Jessica’s husband. He has traditional, conservative ideas about discipline, duty, and success, and tends towards “respectability politics” on racial issues. He served in the military and… read analysis of David Butler
Spoony is Rashad’s older brother. He works for UPS and lives with his girlfriend, Berry, in their own apartment. Rebelling against his father’s wishes, he wears his hair in dreadlocks and dresses in… read analysis of Spoony Butler
Ma is Quinn and Willy’s mom (we never learn her first name). She works long night shifts at a warehouse, and struggles with the burdens of being a widow and a single mother raising… read analysis of Ma
Quinn’s father was a soldier who died in Afghanistan. We never learn his first name, though people in the town often refer to him by his nickname, “Saint Springfield.” Quinn’s father was by all… read analysis of Quinn’s Father
Jill is Paul and Guzzo’s cousin. She attends Springfield Central High, and is known for throwing great parties. Quinn has a crush on her. Jill is independent and strong-minded; despite growing up in the… read analysis of Jill
Guzzo is one of Quinn’s best friends. He is white and, according to Quinn, “enormous.” He is Paul’s younger brother, and after the incident at Jerry’s remains fiercely defensive of Paul. He insists… read analysis of Guzzo
English is one of Rashad’s best friends. He is extremely handsome, kind, and captain of the basketball team. English is at first concerned when tensions over Rashad’s arrest threaten appear to threaten the basketball… read analysis of English Jones
Carlos is the third of Rashad’s best friends. Every year he auditions for the basketball team, and every year he is unsuccessful, something that his friends tease him about. Carlos is a graffiti artist… read analysis of Carlos Greene
Katie is a white woman who is buying beer at Jerry’s when she mistakenly trips over Rashad. This accident provokes Paul and the cashier to accuse Rashad of stealing, thereby leading to his violent… read analysis of Katie Lansing
Shirley Fitzgerald is an elderly black widow who volunteers at the gift shop in the hospital where Rashad is recovering from his wounds. She is kind to Rashad, and they strike up a friendship. She… read analysis of Shirley Fitzgerald
Darnell Shackleford is a young black man who was being robbed by a white man when David (then working as a cop) was called to assist. Mistaking Darnell for the mugger, David shot him, assuming… read analysis of Darnell Shackleford
Shannon is another of Rashad’s best friends.
Tiffany is a student at Springfield Central High who Rashad has a crush on. He describes her as “the baddest girl in the eleventh grade.”
Will (“Willy”) Collins
Will is Quinn’s 12-year-old brother. He plays soccer and loves video games, and feels a lot of admiration and loyalty toward Quinn.
Mrs. Cambi is Quinn’s neighbor, who often looks after Willy on weekend nights while Ma is at work.
Dwyer is one of Quinn’s best friends. He is white, plays on the basketball team, and expresses anxieties about how the protest will impact the team. Ultimately, he chooses to remain loyal to Paul and Guzzo during the tensions over Rashad’s arrest.
Clarissa is the nurse who treats Rashad while he is in the hospital. She is kind and friendly, compliments Rashad on his drawing, and attends the protest.
Dr. Barnes is the doctor who treats Rashad in hospital.
Berry is Spoony’s girlfriend and English’s older sister. She is smart, attends law school, and, like Spoony, is passionately involved in anti-racist activism. Rashad describes her as beautiful and “everybody’s first crush.”
Coach Carney is the coach of the basketball team. After the incident at Jerry’s, he encourages members of the basketball team to focus on the scouts who will be attending the upcoming season’s games and forbids them from attending the protest.
Pastor Jerome Johnson
Pastor Johnson is the Butler family’s pastor. He comes to visit Rashad in hospital and tells him that everything happens for a reason, which annoys Rashad. However, Rashad is happy when Pastor Johnson comes to the protest, bringing a large group of people with him.
Mr. Galluzzo is Paul and Guzzo’s father.
Mrs. Galluzzo is Paul and Guzzo’s mother. She chastises Jill, her niece, when Jill fails to express sufficient loyalty to Paul.
Jill’s mom, whose name we do not learn, also scolds Jill for not showing enough support for Paul.
Nam is a student at Springfield Central High and the point guard on the basketball team.
Marc Blair is a teenager who once bullied Quinn. In defense of Quinn, Paul beat him up. Although it isn’t listed explicitly, there is an implication that Marc is black.
is one of Quinn’s teachers. She refuses to talk directly about Rashad’s arrest and appears to unjustly pick on a black student, EJ. She sends EJ and Molly out when they protest this unfair treatment.
Molly is a white student at Springfield Central High. Along with EJ, she objects to Ms. Webber’s apparent racism and is sent out.
EJ is a black student at Springfield Central High who is unfairly picked on by Ms. Webber. When he protests, he is sent out.
Ms. Tracey is Quinn’s English teacher. Following Rashad’s arrest, she assigns the first chapter of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man, “Battle Royale,” which depicts a disturbing scene of racist violence. She sobs in class thinking about Rashad, and attends the protest at the end of the novel.
Mr. Fisher is a history teacher at Springfield Central High. He encourages the students to organize the protest, telling them that they are living in a “historical moment.” He attends the protest along with Ms. Tracey.
Claudia James is a woman who filmed Rashad’s arrest on her phone and distributes the video through social media. She supports Rashad, affirming that he was a victim of police brutality.
Chief Killabrew is Rashad’s ROTC leader. He sends Rashad a message of support while he is in the hospital, and attends the protest.
Tooms is a black student at Springfield Central High and a member of the basketball team. Along with Quinn, he reads passages from Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royale” aloud in Ms. Tracey’s English class, dedicating it to Rashad.
Mrs. Erlich is Quinn’s trigonometry teacher. During class, she writes statistics about police brutality on the white board, telling her students that “the numbers don’t lie.”