Surely Goodness and Mercy: Character Backstories

Tino sadly comes from a background that is not too unique. Living in Newark, NJ, and with his parents gone he is being taken care of by his intimidating and abusive Aunt, Alneesa. He has few friends, and is bullied by most of his classmates making him the pariah of his school. Tino walks on eggshells at home as he tries to form a healthier relationship with Alneesa, and though he thrives in academics he still eats alone to avoid further teasing. For a time, his only solace was church and his only friend was the school lunch lady Bernadette until Dija and him bond over understanding that sometimes an itch needs a scratch. So, when Bernadette is diagnosed with MS he immediately sees that he cannot just stand by while a friend is in need. He stands up for her, and in the process learns to stand up for himself.