Mia comes to understand the terms of her out-of-body condition, in that she can press elevator buttons, sit in rooms, and open doors, but no one seems to notice that she is there. She goes to the waiting area where her family continues to wait for news of her condition, and overhears two of her aunts discussing someone with cuts and bruises. She hopes they are talking about Teddy, meaning he is still alive, but she soon discovers they’re talking about the driver of the truck that hit her family’s car, a man named Mr. Dunlap. The aunts note that the police believe he swerved due to the snow, and that “lopsided” outcomes in terms of damage in car crashes are common. While it is true that Mr. Dunlap is physically “fine,” Mia wonders how much his life has changed after this morning, when his truck took the lives of (almost) an entire family.
Even in the wake of her parents’ death, Mia cannot help but feel compassion for the driver who caused the accident. This is evidence for her extreme empathy and ability to feel for others instead of automatically blaming them. Her aunts’ assessment of the situation is kept relative to the other, more serious outcomes of the car accident. Despite her ability to move around unseen, Mia still does not know Teddy’s condition or fate.
Mia searches the hospital to find Adam and Kim again, and discovers them looking for nurse or janitor’s uniforms in an attempt to break into the ICU to see Mia. Though Kim suggests Adam go to Mia’s grandparents and see if they could have him authorized to see Mia, Adam replies that he can’t bear to face them in the wake of the tragedy, and that this is something he must do himself. As Mia already knows but cannot tell them, the closet they are fumbling in is a broom closet and doesn’t contain any uniforms. Once Kim and Adam realize this, they know they must come up with a better plan. Adam finally does, declaring it is “time to activate the Bat Signal.”
Mia is heartened, and somewhat amused, by Adam’s determination to see Mia on his own terms. This is the first time Adam and Kim have ever worked together, bonded by their mutual love for Mia. Most of the non-flashback action of the book, in fact, involves Mia looking on, heartened, as her friends and family show their devotion to her but also how that devotion does bind them together as friends.
In a flashback, Mia remembers that when she began to play the cello, she noticed how different it was from the band her Dad played in. While he was always playing with other people, she could only practice solo in her room. Mia then decided to quit, due to this loneliness, in the spring of eighth grade. Kim notices this, however, and prompts Mia to apply to a summer conservatory camp in British Columbia. The prospect of playing with other students re-sparks Mia’s interest in the cello, and she is accepted to the camp.
Mia is somewhat of a natural loner, something both reflected and reinforced by her interest in the cello. Kim, who is more outgoing than Mia, takes it upon herself to ensure that Mia continues to pursue her passion while also strengthening her interpersonal relationships.
When she arrives at the camp on Vancouver Island three months later, Mia is miserable at first, since she doesn’t know anyone. However, she soon makes friends with Peter, a trombonist, and Simon, a fellow cellist. Simon asks Mia if she will be trying out for the concerto competition, which Peter explains is a competition for one student to play a solo during the camp’s end-of-summer symphony. Simon notes that people have been talking about Mia’s audition tape, since it was apparently very good. He assumes Mia will be gunning to win the concerto competition, but privately, Mia knows she has very little experience playing the cello with other musicians.
Camp is the first time Mia has ever met other students her age interested in classical music. It is also the first time her abilities as a musician have been seen as something to be jealous of, and the first time they have ever been challenged.
Mia is kept busy all day at camp playing music in the context of an orchestra, a much different experience than playing solo in her bedroom. She also begins to play duets (and cello “duels”) with Simon in the hours after dinner. They engage in friendly competition, and though neither of them wins the concerto competition that year, Mia notes that four years later she would win the competition.
Playing music with students who possess equal or greater musical talent teaches Mia how to hone her skills, while being away from home for the first time ever teaches her how to adapt to a new environment. Ultimately, camp helps reinforce Mia’s dream to play the cello professionally.