86 pages 2 hours read

Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2018

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Character Analysis

Haley Shondell McGrath

Haley is the reliable and highly reflective narrator of Harbor Me. Her thoughts, feelings, and impressions guide the novel's plot development. Haley is deeply introspective, and at the beginning of the novel, many of her insights are shared with readers through her narrative voice but remain unexpressed to other characters. When she first hears the story of Esteban’s father being detained by immigration, she “wanted to say, I know that thing, Esteban” (10), given her own father’s incarceration. However, she is initially too shy or ashamed to share her own story.

A desire to understand her unique background drives Haley's motivation to collect stories. Having lost her mother at age three and having relatively little contact with her imprisoned father, Haley is naturally curious about her identity and family history. She is left with a few physical signs of her personal history, including her distinctive red hair and her diverse racial identity. However, she longs for more details and personal connections. By collecting the stories of her friends Esteban, Amari, Tiago, Ashton, and Holly, Haley begins to deepen her awareness of the complexities, fears, flaws, and strengths that mark each person's story.