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About the Characters



Erik is Janet Mino’s highest-functioning student, the class cut-up who is smart, talkative and good at following directions. He is happy and loves his “two moms”: a biological mother who is too ill to care for him and a dedicated and loving foster mother. Erik seems the most ready to graduate. In fact, he has a dream—to work at Burger King.



Quran is a quiet soul who works well, is able to read, successfully controls his social behavior and has strong support from two parents. Mino has high hopes for Quran but finds herself at odds with Quran’s father, who fears the teacher’s emphasis on education comes at the expense of acquiring basic life skills.



Robert is the biggest mystery and source of heartbreak in the class. A troubled boy who cannot express his pain, he is given to erratic behavior. Robert’s father home-schooled him until he passed away four years ago, and Robert is now cared for by his aunt, a recovering drug addict. His chaotic home life often keeps him away from school and he begins to regress. Robert may be an unfortunate example of Mino’s contention "Skip a day . . . and you have to start all over."



Rahamid has Down’s syndrome, not autism, but came to Ms. Mino’s class as a last resort. A young man with a violent streak, he has been kicked out of every other classroom in the school. With Ms. Mino’s help, he has become much more functional, but is hindered daily by a crippling fear of plants. He was placed in the care of his grandmother due to his mother’s drug addiction.


Janet Mino

John F. Kennedy School special education teacher


Cynthia Pullen Thompson

Social worker


Bradley and Doris Key

Quran’s parents


Alyce and Maurice Barnhardt

Erik’s foster parents


Bessie Taylor

Erik’s mother


Linda Coleman

Robert’s aunt

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