Living… in a funeral home with her dad in Madison, Pennsylvania. Thanks to her dad’s job as a funeral director, Vada has grown up a bit obsessed with death. This has also caused her to be a major hypochondriac. She often goes to the doctor, certain that she’s ill or dying.
Profession… student at a school she hates. The girls there tease her, and the boys are a little afraid of her. She doesn’t let it bother her though; she prefers to hang out with those she finds “intellectually stimulating.” Her best friend is Thomas J., a boy who is “allergic to everything.”
Interests… writing, death, and taking care of her “Gramoo.” Vada’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s, so Vada spends a lot of time caring for her, although this does little to help the already death-obsessed adolescent. Vada is also taking an adult writing class this summer with Mr. Bixler, who teaches her some valuable lessons about writing what’s “in her heart.”
Relationship Status… single. Though Vada is too young for a real relationship, she has a huge crush on Mr. Bixler. She is convinced that someday they’ll get married. Everyone at school thinks she’s in love with Thomas J. but it’s not true — they’re just best friends.
Challenge… trying to get her dad to understand her. Vada’s mom died during childbirth, and ever since, Vada has silently struggled with feelings of intense guilt. Rather than attempt to understand and connect with his young daughter, Vada’s dad mostly ignores her, choosing instead to assume she is a normal, happy 11-year-old. Her dad is also too busy wooing his new love interest, Shelly, to pay much attention to Vada. She is not thrilled that her father has found love again, so she takes a special interest in sabotaging their relationship.
Personality… neurotic, quirky, and misunderstood. Vada is going through a tough time for any kid, but it’s made worse by the fact that her father is oblivious to her unhappiness. She is obsessed with death and slightly paranoid, but is learning to confront the dark feelings she has, through writing and her friendship with Thomas J. She’s dealing with a lot of painful emotions compared to others her age and, although she can be cynical, she has a good heart and cares a lot about her dad and Thomas J.
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