When Katie enters school, she has difficulty being the only Japanese-American in her class. Her grades are solid average C's, in comparison to Lynn's ongoing straight A's. When Katie is six years old, her brother Samson (known as Sammy) is born. Lynn makes a friend whose name is Amber and also grows to be a teenager, becoming interested in boys and spending more time with her friends and lesser time with Katie. Katie also notices Lynn's change in behaviour as she starts dabbling in makeup and worrying about beauty. Without Lynn's company, Katie makes friends with a girl called Sylvia "Silly" Kilgore, whose mother also works at the hatchery. However, Lynn starts feeling sporadically fatigued and ill, and is diagnosed with anemia.
Lynn is eventually diagnosed with lymphoma and becomes even sicker and then her friends dump her. The family moves into a house of Lynn's choice to help her recover, which appears to work for a short time. However, Lynn relapses from distress when Sammy is caught in a metal animal trap on the vast property owned by Mr. Lyndon, the owner of the hatchery. Lynn's condition continues to deteriorate and she becomes blank and irritable.