In 1957, when second-graders Bryce Loski and Julianna "Juli" Baker first meet, Juli knows it's love, but Bryce isn't so sure and tries to avoid Juli. By the sixth grade, in 1961, Bryce tries to get rid of Juli by dating Sherry Stalls, whom Juli despises. However, Bryce's best friend, Garrett, takes an interest in Sherry and eventually tells her the truth about Bryce asking her out; she doesn't take it well. From Juli's perspective, Bryce returned her feelings, but was shy. After finding out Bryce and Sherry broke up, she thought she could have Bryce back. But then they reconsider their decisions as time goes on. In 1962, Bryce's grandfather Chet Duncan moves in with the family. Chet has different views about Juli. There's a large, old sycamore tree that Juli loves which no one else understands. One day, it's cut down by a group of landscapers so a house can be built there, despite Juli's opposition. She becomes very depressed afterwards, as the tree let her see the world in a more enlightened way. Her father gives her a painting of the tree.