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Mishna is the main protagonist of the story, a white girl growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood. Because of this clear racial difference, she had a difficult time making friends when she was younger, and had to learn how to adapt. As well, she is very confused about her cultural identity, often suppressing different sides of herself in different situations. She longs for both her parents' approval.
Anora is Mishna's sister. However, she does not have the same problems making friends as Mishna, and is favored by her father, often making her feel inferior. Over the course of the book, Mishna anguishes over Anora's bad decisions- smoking, shoplifting, etc- and tries to stop her.
Yvonne is Mishna's dad's girlfriend, and eventually new wife. Although she seems fine during the beginning of their relationship, after their marriage, she becomes extremely aggressive towards Mishna, verbally abusing her and calling her a racist, to the point where Mishna begins to think she truly is one on the inside.
Mishna and her father have a very difficult relationship. Mishna feels that her father has never truly approved of her, not liking the fact that she had trouble making friends growing up, and not liking her more moral personality. She always felt that her father favored her sister, and disliked her for not being black enough. Mishna's struggle for paternal approval is a significant motivator of hers throughout the book.
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