Elvira helps makes Melody’s school day “almost pleasant.” She can chat with other students and answer questions in class. For the first time, her teachers give her real grades, because they can finally see her engagement and progress. But even though Melody is more integrated into her classes than ever before, she still feels isolated socially. Rose talks to her for a few minutes in the cafeteria, but Melody notices that Rose doesn’t call her after school, or invite her to sleepovers.
Melody’s Medi-Talker helps her participate in class, but it becomes clear that there is more separating her from her classmates than her ability to speak. She still doesn’t quite belong. Her friendship with Rose, especially, is a source of angst. Rose is kind to her and pays attention to her, but is unwilling to commit to a deeper, more meaningful friendship.
In January, Mr. Dimming gives his history class a practice test for the Whiz Kids quiz team. Melody answers the questions on Elvira and prints out her answers. Mr. Dimming is surprised when Melody participates, and even more shocked that she receives the only perfect score in the class. The whole classroom is shocked. Melody receives a candy bar as a prize, but is embarrassed by the negative attention she receives from girls like Claire and Molly who suggest Melody has cheated or guessed, when, in fact, Melody knew all the answers because she is so smart.
Mr. Dimming, like so many others, has assumed that Melody is unable to learn, even though she comes to his class every day and seems engaged. Claire and Molly, who often underestimate Melody, find it difficult to imagine that she could outperform them on an exam.
Catherine tries to comfort Melody, suggesting she study extra hard to get onto the Whiz Kids team. Melody doesn’t think it will ever happen, and she feels even worse when Mr. Dimming says that the qualifying test will be even harder, because “If Melody Brooks can win the first round, then my questions must not be difficult enough!”
Catherine tries to support Melody, as Mrs. V does later, and assure her that she is smart and capable. Unfortunately, Mr. Dimming’s continuing dismissal of Melody’s ability makes it difficult for her to feel confident. Once again he dismisses her intelligence, writing her high score off as a fluke.