One of the appealing facets of this character is her love of books and reading, her devotion to letter-writing. Like many lonely young girls, she finds solace in the books she is given, but eventually she tires of them, when she finds books that "kept telling me I was in love with white people and trying to be like them, that I didn't know what I already know -- that it was a white world and black people had to watch out for themselves, that a black person couldn't believe what white people said about them, just like a girl couldn't believe what men and boys said about her or said they thought or said they wanted and it was like school where everything was about boys, nothing about girls except a few randomly-placed insults."
At novel's end, Sandrine writes the letter of her life, a letter that once and for all asserts her sense of self-worth in the face of her mother's criticism.
Johnson perfectly captures the voice of a young girl, searching for acceptance and friendship. In Sister Paul and the nuns at her New Orleans school, Sandrine finds mentors and models for kindness; in the women who work at her father's clinic, she finds solace. In a new life with her father, she allows herself to feel "small and safe," confident that she has come home at last. After such a bleak existence, she is allowed that ray of hope, that most basic right of childhood.