Esch is the novel’s narrator and protagonist, a fifteen-year-old girl who is both physically and emotionally isolated from her family and the world around her. The only girl in a family of boys and men—whose… read analysis of Esch
Skeetah, the second-eldest of Esch’s brothers, is in some ways the novel’s second protagonist; he is the person Esch spends the most time with, and since the novel is told from her perspective, he… read analysis of Skeetah
Seventeen-year-old Randall is Esch, Skeetah, and Junior’s older brother. He is quiet and focused and very tall; he is a skilled basketball player who moves “like a rabbit” on the court. He… read analysis of Randall
The youngest of the Batiste siblings at seven years old, Junior is desperate to be included in Esch, Skeetah, and Randall’s games, plots, and schemes despite the large age gap between them… read analysis of Junior
A local boy who is a little bit older than Randall and Skeetah. Manny is the loudest of Randall and Skeetah’s friends, and the most gregarious; Esch loves Manny from afar, but he does… read analysis of Manny
Manny’s cousin, a local boy and dogfighter whose dog Kilo sired China’s puppies. Because of this, Rico feels entitled to taking at least one puppy from the litter for free. When Skeetah doesn’t… read analysis of Rico
One of Randall’s close friends. A large, quiet boy who is kinder to Esch than anyone else around, he has never tried to sleep with her—unlike the other local boys—and has always been something of a protector to her.
A local boy who is Skeetah’s best friend. Years ago, Esch lost her virginity to Marquise.
A local girl who is dating Manny. Esch describes Shaliyah as beautiful but “crazy,” territorial, and always on the hunt for a fight with other girls she thinks Manny is “messing with.”
Marquise’s cousin. He fights his dog Boss (on China’s behalf) against Rico’s dog Kilo for claim to one of China’s puppies, and when the fight is a draw, Skeetah offers to fight China, despite being a new mother, to settle things.