Don’t Scream Curiosity One characteristic of Jessica Donnally in the book, Don’t Scream, by Joan Lowery Nixon, is curiosity. Jess spends much of her time attempting to find out the details of other people’s lives, and it often gets her in trouble. The main characters in the book are Jessica Donnally, Lori Roberts, Mark Malik and Scott Alexandar. Jess is a normal sixteen-year-old girl with an unsatisfiable curiosity and a great compassion for kids. Lori is Jess’s best friend. Mark and Scott have both recently moved to Oakberry, Texas.
Jess is excited when she learns that there is going to be two new students in her school. When she finds out that one of them, Mark, is moving in next door, she jumps at the chance to welcome him. Her mom bakes a cake and when Jess takes it over to the Malik’s house, she finds out that they are a little different from most families. Mrs. Malik seems confused and threatened by Jess offering her the cake as a welcome gift. However, Mark seems semi-normal, and he explains that where his family used to live, in New York, people are not neighborly.
Jessica likes Mark despite that she does not know much about him. When she calls Lori, Jess discovers that she is interested in a new student also, Scott. Before the school year starts, Jess and Lori decide to spend one last day at the nearby lake. To get to the lake, they take a shortcut through the woods. They are the only ones who know about the shortcut. On the way to the lake, they stop at a large rock they had named Castle Rock as children. Instead of continuing on to the lake, Jess and Lori sit on the rock and talk for a while. Then, Jess thinks someone is watching them, and both of them run out of the forest.
That night, Jess sees Mark again and is curious about what looks like tree moss on his shoes. She immediately questions him about whether he has ever been in the woods. However, even when Mark says he has never been in the woods, Jess has a herd time believing him. Something in his voice does not seem right. The next morning, Mark asks Jess to walk with him to school. Mark tells her that he has a really bad temper and wants her to help him stay out of trouble. Jess finds the entire conversation confusing because Mark has been nothing but pleasant so far.
During her first day back at school, Jess meets Scott in her journalism class, in which Mark is also. Scott is very quiet and seems to have something against Mark right from the beginning. In class, they often start arguments and glare at each other from across the room. After school, the four of them, Mark, Scott, Jessica, and Lori, all take the shortcut through the woods to the lake. Although Scott had just moved there, he leads the way through the woods to the lake.
Jess wonders if maybe he had taken the shortcut before. However, the only way he could have known about it is if he had been watching them in the woods that day. Lori brings up an old legend about a haunted cemetery hidden somewhere in the woods, and she suggests that they all go looking for it sometime. Everyone thinks it is a good idea, except Jess. Her mother had told her not to look for the cemetery when she was little, and Jess had promised that she would not.
However, Jess thinks about it and decides that she is older now and a childhood promise should not matter to her any longer. Jess reluctantly agrees to go with them if they every search for the cemetery. Scott is very discreet about his past and is careful about what he reveals. This frustrates Jess because she likes to know everything about everyone. She questions Scott relentlessly until he finally says he lives with his aunt in the apartment buildings.
All of Jessica’s questions insult Scott, and he asks her to stop. Jess realizes that she is being nosy and apologizes. Nevertheless, she still cannot stop wondering about whom Scott really is and why he would have followed them. On the way home from the lake, Jess walks with Mark and tells him her idea for a volunteer program. She wants to set up a program through their social problems class. It will allow students to spend time helping children in the hospital.
Mark thinks it is a great idea and encourages Jess to bring it up to their teacher. They are both excited about the plan, but Jess makes it a point that she cannot carry it through until she asks her mom. Jess’s grades in school have not been that great, and she already has an after-school job that takes up much of her time. In social problems class the next day, Mark suddenly brings up Jessica’s idea for the volunteer program. Their teacher loves the idea and suggests that the entire class get involved. When they are establishing the committee, Mark explains that it was all originally Jess’s idea. At this point, the teacher recommends that Jess heads the committee, since it was her idea. When they appoint Jess head of the committee, Mark becomes unjustifiably mad and sulks around for the rest of the day. After school, Jess avoids Mark because he brought up her idea when he knew she was not ready yet.
Instead of going with her friends after school, Jess goes straight home to convince her mother to allow her to head the volunteer committee. Her mother is reluctant at first, but agrees to let her do it if she can keep her grades up and handle her job too. To do these things, she has to stop talking on the telephone and watching television. In Jess’s next journalism class she learns how to use everyday resources to find out personal information about people. She decides to use her new kn …