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Written by Callie Labrador
Meredith is the protagonist of the novel and despite being a young girl takes responsibility for ridding the community of her father when it becomes clear that the justice system does not seem to know how to do so. She is the survivor of sexual assault by her father and was courageous enough to give evidence against him at his trial. The abuse left her with obsessive compulsive disorder and the knowledge that her mother was firmly on the side of her father.
Meredith feels justifiably betrayed by the system when her father is released early and shows a great deal of maturity when she devises a plan to send him back to jail. She feels guilty that she is a child molester's daughter and also feels blamed by some of the community. She is surprised by the degree of responsibility that she feels to protect other children, especially when she finds out that her parents are trying to have another child.
Meredith has trouble trusting others and has a tendency to see ulterior motives in every action. She is also a good judge of character and is able to see what type of person her mother is, despising her and almost pitying her at the same time. Her great fear is ending up like her mother and she works hard to avoid this eventuality. She has a great sense of self-preservation and envisions a better life for herself than her past experiences have given. She is brave, courageous and not just the protagonist of the book but genuinely the hero as well.
Sharon is Meredith's mother but has no maternal instinct or empathy. Rather than wanting to protect Meredith from her father, she wants to protect Charles from the consequences of his actions. She has very low self-esteem which is likely because she was essentially Charles' first victim, beginning a relationship with him when she was twelve and he was sixteen; however she does not see herself as a victim of an abuser but as the victim of a situation that has deprived her of the man she loves for three years. Sharon views her daughter as a rival for her husband's affection rather than the child she should protect. She has no respect for the conditions of his parole and views every situation in terms of how it impacts her, for example, the rule forbidding Charles and Meredith to be alone is not something she sees that protects her daughter, but as something she sees as an inconvenience to her. Sharon is exceptionally self-centered and believes the world should revolve around her.
Charles Shale is a child molester whose victims include his own daughter, Meredith. Unlike most child molesters, he has abused both girls and boys, and gets close to them before betraying their trust by abusing them. His abuse of Andy came after he had been living with Andy's mother and treating her son like his own, getting close to him solely so that he could molest him. Charles has the dangerous arrogance of someone who feels he has beaten the system and consequently feels invincible and as if he has a license to molest Meredith whenever he wants. He was a previously well-respected member of the community and a popular youth sports coach, and he seems incapable of accepting the community's rejection of him now that he has been revealed as a child molester. He is a physically overpowering person who is sociopathic and thinks that rules do not apply to him.
Andy is another of Charles' victims but does not blame Meredith for her father's crimes. He has internalized his abuse and uses alcohol to help him get through each day. After his abuse, Andy became paralyzed from the waist down which although not strictly psychosomatic is the physical manifestation of the emotional paralysis he has felt since his abuse. He also feels powerless to affect the situation and feels like he does not matter when the courts allow Charles' release. He feels guilty that Meredith is the stronger of the two and also that he is putting his needs before hers.
Paula Mues is Andy's mother and years ago was a slim, attractive woman who lived with Charles Shale who had left his wife to be with her. Since Charles had molested her son whilst living with them she let herself go physically and is now unrecognizable as the woman he used to know intimately. She chooses to live near her sons' molester every day as her atonement for not protecting her son. She is deeply religious and spends every Friday fasting and sitting in darkness. She is supportive to Meredith and offers a port in the storm for her once her father is back in the home.
Nigel is the officer who arrested Meredith's father for molesting her. He wants Charles to know that he is watching him and also that he is not fooled by his outward appearance of regret and repentance. He delights in calling him "Chuckie" which irks him. Nigel walks his dog Gilly around the complex regularly which gives him plenty of opportunities to check on Meredith. He knows that her safety is compromised but feels powerless to do anything about this himself which is why he gives her first a knife and subsequently a teddy bear with a camera inside so that she can film her father molesting her.
Leah Louisa is Meredith's grandmother and also the previous Mayor of Estertown. She did not bring Sharon up in a way that would explain her behavior and is constantly troubled and despairing of her daughter.She wants to protect Meredith but is aware that she needs to go through the appropriate legal channels which are slow and frustrating. She believes what Meredith tells her about her father immediately and without question which is why she is one of the few people Meredith trusts.
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