Daily life is pretty dreary for eleven year old Reggie. She's already mastered the art of dumpster diving for scraps of food and being her own parent. Her mother, dangerously close to a full break with sanity, is of little help. Reggie has invented a dream world where she and her best friend, Tough Girl, battle aliens for glory. Life is manageable until new neighbors move in and Reggie's dream world begins to unravel.
DDeShawn is an eighth grader that goes to school with Reggie and lives in the same apartment complex as her. The two meet when DeShawn and a few buddies throw water balloons at Reggie. Instead of running away, Reggie dares them to fight. Pretty soon, DeShawn can't keep his eyes off his feisty classmate. Slowly but surely, he breaks down her defenses and the two date (as much as kids in middle school date).
Below is an excerpt of DeShawn and Reggie at the beginning of their courtship. DeShawn has just apologized to Reggie and offered her a sandwich his mom left for him as an after school snack. They are at DeShawn's apartment but Reggie refuses to go in.
“Why won’t you come in?”
“You think I’ll rape you?”
“Then why won’t you come in?”
“I’m not sure what rape is but I’ve been told this is how to avoid it.”