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.
She's the one teacher Reggie feels like she might be able to talk to about her life. Mrs. Stegner teaches history and is Reggie's first period teacher. She's quick and funny but a bit aloof. She comes close to asking directly if Reggie is okay, but stays just far enough away to allow Reggie to lie comfortably. As things grow harder, it is Mrs. Stegner that Reggie may turn to for help.
Below is an excerpt from the novel. This is a very brief conversation Reggie overhears when we first meet Mrs. Stegner.
Mrs. Stegner was arguing with a student when Reggie got to class. “I don’t care how much you wanted to do your homework last night, the fact that you didn’t do it is what matters.”
“But it wasn’t my fault,” the boy said. “My dad made me watch movies last night.”
“It was a trilogy. What was I supposed to do?”
“But there were three of them!”
Mrs. Stegner gave an exasperated sigh. “We’ll discuss this after class.”