Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

Keisha Character Analysis

Keisha is a new girl at school with whom Ally becomes very close. She's the only black girl and is extremely confident in herself and her abilities. This causes her to challenge Shay regularly and stand up for others, something that Ally admires greatly. She and Ally start to become friends after Mr. Daniels rearranges the seating chart to seat them next to each other. Though their exchanges start off rocky, Keisha is very grateful for Ally's kindness when the latter tries to share her bouquet with Keisha at the holiday concert after Keisha's bouquet is unfairly taken away. A few weeks into their friendship, Keisha joins Ally in accepting Albert into the group. She humors Albert by watching Star Trek (though she insults the special effects) and tries to figure out what the word "Flint" on Albert's shirt might refer to. Keisha continues to have no time for bullies, so she takes issue with Albert when she learns that he doesn't fight back when, nearly every afternoon, a group of bullies beats him up—though in Ally's opinion, Keisha pushes Albert too hard to fight back. When Ally runs for class president, Keisha is one of Ally's biggest supporters. Even more importantly, when Ally experiences situations in which she struggles with her self-esteem, Keisha counsels Ally to take pride in her differences and the things she can do well. She points out that they don't want to be mean like Shay is and that trying to please people who want them to be the same as everyone else is a waste of time. Keisha wants to be a baker when she grows up, so she spends much of her free time baking cupcakes with secret messages inside.

Keisha Quotes in Fish in a Tree

The Fish in a Tree quotes below are all either spoken by Keisha or refer to Keisha. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Fish in a Tree published in 2015.
Chapter 26 Quotes

It comes from a place so deep inside, it's like it's coming out of the ground. “I just... I just want to fit in for once. I mean, I really do. Just to be the same as everyone else.”

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Keisha
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 34 Quotes

“People ask what you want to be when you grow up. I know what kind of grown-up I want to be. But I don't know who I am now.” Albert stretches his legs out. “There are always people ready to tell you who you are, like a nerd or a jerk or a wimp.”

Related Characters: Albert (speaker), Ally, Keisha
Page Number: 183-84
Explanation and Analysis:
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And I think of words. The power they have. How they can be waved around like a wand—sometimes for good, like how Mr. Daniels uses them. How he makes kids like me and Oliver feel better about ourselves. And how words can also be used for bad. To hurt.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Mr. Daniels, Keisha, Albert, Oliver
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 50 Quotes

I feel like I'm going to cry. Thinking how Albert has come to school every day with those bruises for all this time. We always asked him what it would take for him to fight back. Turns out it was protecting us.

Related Characters: Ally (speaker), Keisha, Albert, The Bullies
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
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Keisha Character Timeline in Fish in a Tree

The timeline below shows where the character Keisha appears in Fish in a Tree. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Yellow Card
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...laugh and ignore Mrs. Hall's admonitions while Ally wonders why she isn't used to this. Keisha, the new girl, tells Shay to mind her own business and the two argue for... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bag Full of Nothing
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Keisha goes next and takes out a homemade cupcake. Shay whispers that the cupcake isn't decorated,... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Keisha says she's going to call her baking business "Hidden Messages," and Mr. Daniels says the... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...of her classmates. They contain two Japanese foods that she says might be spicy. Max, Keisha, and Jessica run to the sink for water after eating the wasabi pea, while Albert... (full context)
Chapter 11: Scrambled Egg
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...Mr. Daniels has redone the seating chart. Ally is in the front row next to Keisha now. She thinks that Keisha can write and bake, while Ally can do neither. Ally... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Out of the blue, Ally asks Keisha if she likes eggs. Keisha seems incredulous, but Ally keeps going and talks about all... (full context)
Chapter 12: What's Your Problem, Albert?
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...pigeon wedding in her notebook and wondering how to apologize to Albert when she notices Keisha behind her. Keisha compliments the drawing, which embarrasses Ally. Ally admires Keisha's thin braids, reaches... (full context)
Chapter 13: Trouble with Flowers
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...Muldoon, because she's prone to blowing up. Backstage, Shay makes fun of Albert's ill-fitting clothes. Keisha stands up for Albert, but Shay insists some people deserve to be pulled down. Albert... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...front but now that she's grown, she gets to stand in the back next to Keisha. She admires how Keisha stood up for Albert and wishes she could be brave. Ally... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Mrs. Muldoon hands out beautiful bouquets. Keisha smells hers and then brushes her fingers over the blooms, which accidentally breaks off a... (full context)
Chapter 15: Ungreased Gears
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...did it in only a few minutes. He's in the hallway with another student, but Keisha snags Ally at the door and gives her a cupcake. She snaps at Max when... (full context)
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Keisha remarks that the class loses control over food and then gives Ally the cupcake. She... (full context)
Chapter 17: Misfit Lunch
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...She approaches him and surprises herself by inviting him to eat lunch with her and Keisha, so they can "all sit alone together." Albert picks at the logic of Ally's phrasing... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Keisha sits down and immediately says that she watched Star Trek and the special effects are... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Albert and Keisha discuss the merits of the cowboy who rides an ostrich. Albert insists that an ostrich... (full context)
Chapter 18: Truths and Untruths
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Keisha flounces to her seat, annoyed because Mr. Daniels asked her to do a paper again... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
In the cafeteria, Keisha addresses Albert and says she wants to talk about his Flint shirt. He corrects her... (full context)
Chapter 19: Not-So-Sweet Secret
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Mom smiles when Ally, Albert, and Keisha walk into Petersen's. She seats them in a booth and takes their ice cream order.... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...stares at his ice cream and then says it reminds him of Ellis Island. At Keisha's prodding, he says that immigrants on Ellis Island sometimes got ice cream. They didn't know... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Keisha continues to angrily try to convince Albert to fight back, while he continues to cite... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...out of her lunchbox, Ally reached over and grabbed a hunk of cake in retaliation. Keisha laughs while Albert looks wide-eyed. Ally thinks she hates this story—she knew immediately she'd pay... (full context)
Chapter 21: Butterfly Wishes
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...announces that she's inviting everyone to her birthday party so no one is left out. Keisha asks how this connects to the community service project, and Mr. Daniels compliments Shay and... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...agree to go to Shay's party, even though Shay is mean and neither Albert nor Keisha are going. At lunch the next day, Ally asks Albert and Keisha for a disease... (full context)
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...classrooms as well as Jessica, all of whom are wearing friendship bracelets. Ally wonders if Keisha would like one. An employee lines up the kids and talks about the butterflies, making... (full context)
Chapter 24: Imaginary Hero
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...turns down the offer. Shay calls Ally a dope and Ally thinks she's right—Albert and Keisha are true friends and she only just realized that. (full context)
Chapter 26: Stalling
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Ally runs into a bathroom stall to hide. Keisha comes into the bathroom and asks why Ally ran from an award. She's puzzled when... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Keisha says that she and Ally are friends, but this is nonsense and Ally is being... (full context)
Chapter 27: Half-Baked Afternoon
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Keisha invites Albert and Ally to her house to help her test if cookie dough letters... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...vegetarian can eat a cupcake with "cow" inside. Ally notices that the oven is smoking. Keisha opens the oven and smoke billows out; the cupcakes overflowed and made a mess. Keisha... (full context)
Chapter 29: Fish in a Tree
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...Ally tells her not to, so Shay says she'll laugh at Ally instead. Ally and Keisha encourage Albert to stand up for himself, but he says that doing so will only... (full context)
Chapter 32: Screen Time
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...her excitement. Mom seems ready to cry as Ally tells Dad about Mr. Daniels, Ally, Keisha, and Shay. Then, Ally says goodbye and Travis has his turn. Travis isn't as happy... (full context)
Chapter 34: Birth of a Star
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
After school a few days later, Keisha and Ally go to Albert's house. Ally still has "possible" in her pocket. Albert introduces... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...and asks what it is. Albert says that it's the birth of a star, and Keisha tells Albert that he'll grow up to be a star. Ally starts to look serious... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Albert pauses and then says if nobody's perfect, then logically, Ally must be perfect. Keisha laughs and also tells Ally she's perfect. Albert says that he's struggling to find the... (full context)
Chapter 35: A Picture is Worth a Gazillion Words
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
...asks for Mrs. Silver again. Ally goes to the bathroom to cry and then asks Keisha to help her write a note for Mr. Daniels, saying that she'll never read or... (full context)
Chapter 36: In the Game of Life...
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
That afternoon as Ally and Mr. Daniels play chess, Ally thinks that Keisha is like a bishop—able to move quickly. Albert is a king; valuable, but very slow.... (full context)
Chapter 39: To-Shay
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
The next morning, Albert brushes off Keisha's questions about his new black eye and offers Ally a sign he made that reads,... (full context)
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Albert and Keisha give Ally one more pep talk and then, Mr. Daniels calls Shay to give her... (full context)
 Chapter 40: Tears of Different Kinds
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Keisha and Albert call Ally Madam President all day. Ally is happy until the end of... (full context)
Chapter 41: Not-So-Secret Letter
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
...she slides it away and decides to try to read it later. She doesn't tell Keisha about it, fearing that Keisha will make a big fuss. Ally also wonders if she... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...thinks of all the clubs she could start and sees a mind movie of her, Keisha, and Albert riding a rocket. Shay pulls Ally back to earth by telling her that... (full context)
Chapter 43: Set the World on Fire
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Because Keisha and Ally are bothered by all the teasing that Albert gets for his shirt, they... (full context)
Chapter 45: My Brother's Question
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Ally draws pictures of talking cupcakes for Keisha's baking business. She thinks about how she still loves her Sketchbook of Impossible Things, but... (full context)
Chapter 46: Flying Tigers and Baby Elephants
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
...were. Albert says that Ally used to figure out how to "repaint" herself for teachers. Keisha asks if he had a nickname for her. Albert is quiet and then says he... (full context)
Chapter 48: Oliver's Idea of Lucky
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...dyslexia is cool, that Ally is a good artist, and that she's sorry for everything. Keisha turns to Albert and asks him what's up with Jessica being nice. Then, Keisha starts... (full context)
Chapter 50: A Hero's Job
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
As Keisha, Albert, and Ally walk home, they hear a voice behind yelling for "brain" to wait... (full context)
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
...that the one thing capable of making him fight was standing up for his friends. Keisha compliments Albert on his strength and bravery, and Albert says that Albert's dad speaks against... (full context)
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
At Petersen's, Albert seems taller and Keisha keeps acting out the fight. Ally pulls out her social studies homework and says that... (full context)