Julia Reyes is the fiery, ravenous, ambitious, contrarian narrator and protagonist of the novel. A year ahead in school and in possession of wit and smarts beyond her years, Julia’s acute intelligence and love… (read full character analysis)
Julia’s saint-like older sister Olga is already deceased at the start of the book, run over in the street by a huge truck after she was forced to take the bus home when Julia’s… (read full character analysis)
Julia’s strict, overbearing mother has very firm ideas about who her daughter should be—ideas that Julia doesn’t understand, respect, or accept at all. For Amá, a housecleaner whose years of hard labor have taken… (read full character analysis)
Julia’s quiet, aloof, and hardworking father came from Los Ojos, Mexico to Chicago to build a better life for his family. Apá works long, grueling hours in a candy factory, toiling and missing out… (read full character analysis)
Julia meets Connor, a white boy from the affluent suburb of Evanston, at a used bookstore in downtown Chicago. After bonding over their love of literature, Connor and Julia begin seeing one another regularly, even… (read full character analysis)
Olga’s best friend. Angie is a complete wreck after Olga’s death, and the level of pain and dishevelment she’s experiencing doesn’t make sense to the unemotional Julia. After Julia finds lingerie and a… (read full character analysis)
When Lorena befriends the flamboyant and charismatic Juanga—a gay classmate—Julia begins feeling jealous of their relationship. Juanga is petty and sarcastic from time to time, but good at heart. His sexuality has alienated him… (read full character analysis)
Julia’s senior-year English teacher. Mr. Ingman sees real promise in Julia, and becomes dedicated to helping her apply to colleges and harness her painful experiences into college essays that demonstrate the heart of who… (read full character analysis)
One of Olga’s high school friends. When Julia runs into her at a party, Jazmyn excitedly asks how Olga’s doing, and remarks that she was “in love” the last time Jazmyn ran into her… (read full character analysis)
Julia’s aunt, and Amá’s sister. Fermina is a kind, sensitive woman who dotes on Julia—and who eventually reveals to her the horrible secret about Amá’s rape and Olga’s true parentage in hopes… (read full character analysis)
Lorena’s mother’s boyfriend. José Luis is only ten years older than Julia and Lorena, and exhibits predatory behavior towards them whenever they’re alone in Lorena’s apartment.
One of Carlos’s cousins. Lorena and Carlos set Julia and Ramiro up on a blind date, and Ramiro ends up being Julia’s first kiss.
One of Julia’s classmates at school.
Tío Bigotes—whose name means “Uncle Moustache”—is one of Julia’s uncles. He is a kind man, but given to drinking too much and making a fool of himself during family celebrations.
Tío Bigotes’s wife.
One of Julia’s uncles. A predatory man who used to stick his finger in Julia’s mouth when no one was looking until once, when she was twelve, she bit him.
One of Julia’s aunts. Milagros is a gossip whose passive-aggressive, tongue-in-cheek remarks get on Julia’s nerves.
One of Julia’s young cousins.
One of Julia’s cousin. Though Vanessa is only a year older than Julia, she already has a young daughter.
One of Julia’s distant cousins, and the only member of her family to have graduated from college. Freddy is kind to Julia, and encourages her to reach out to him with questions and updates about her college application progress.
Freddy’s girlfriend. Alicia works at a prestigious theater company in Chicago.
Julia’s grandmother. A benevolent and doting woman whose family is her whole world. Mamá Jacinta takes good care of Julia when she visits Los Ojos, making sure she’s always stuffed with food and surrounded by family members who love her.
One of Julia’s uncles. Chucho is a kind and fun-loving man who does his best to stay positive, even in the face of droughts, violence, and poverty threatening his beloved hometown of Los Ojos.
One of Julia’s cousins. A gorgeous young woman who’s keenly aware of her beauty. Belén is cool and aloof, and brings Julia with her on shopping trips and outings to football games in order to make her feel more at home in Los Ojos.
One of Julia’s older cousins. It is eventually revealed that the entire family is working together to come up with bribes for the local narcos to keep them from recruiting Andrés to their service.
Julia’s aunt, and one of Amá’s sisters. A sweet, tender woman.
A handsome young man who lives in Los Ojos. He and Julia have a brief flirtation while she is visiting Mexico.
A disgusting and lewd man whose home Julia and Amá clean together one winter day.
Julia’s therapist. A sensitive and inquisitive woman who is the first person in Julia’s life to express true empathy for all that she’s going through.
A translator who works at the hospital where Julia is admitted after her suicide attempt.
The group therapy instructor in Julia’s outpatient program.
A girl in Julia’s outpatient program.
A beautiful and emaciated anorexic girl, and Julia’s closest friend in her outpatient program.
A young man in Julia’s outpatient program who cuts himself.
A suicidal, acne-scarred member of Julia’s outpatient program.
A flirtatious tween in Julia’s outpatient program.