August Pullman has been homeschooled due to some complicated health issues related to a dramatic cranio-facial abnormality and the rigorous surgery schedule that comes with it. But by the time August turns ten, his parents are beginning to think about the big picture a.k.a. long-term. They have realized that Auggie not only needs to learn more than his mom can teach him, but he also needs to learn to navigate a world that isn't always kind to those who are different.
Enter: middle school.
At Beecher Prep in Manhattan, fifth grade is the first year of middle school, so it's a good time for August to plunge into the mainstream. At first Auggie dreads the idea of so many kids staring at him. And who can blame him? But when his mom tells him about the chicks (no, not the beautiful ten-year-old babes—the actual chickens that hatch in the science classroom incubator), he's kind of psyched.
Mr. Tushman, the principal of Beecher Prep (and the butt of many a weak joke), arranges a small welcome committee for August. He asks three kids he has heard are really nice to befriend Auggie, show him around, and help him transition into school life. Charlotte is polite and pleasant, Jack is reserved but nice, and Julian is an unkind creep pretty much from the get-go. Oh good.
The welcome wagon being an imperfect entity, Auggie finds himself sitting alone at lunch the first day of school. Out of the blue though, a really nice girl named Summer sits down and strikes up conversation. She first sits with him because she feels sorry for him, but it doesn't take long for the two kids to become friends. Outside of lunch, Jack's desk is next to Auggie's in almost every class. And once he gets used to Auggie's face, Jack realizes that Auggie is a cool, smart, fun kid, plus a really good friend. So while he's not exactly Mr. Popular, Auggie has made a couple of solid friends.
But Jack lacks self-confidence and the courage to stick with his convictions, and finds himself badmouthing Auggie with the best of 'em. Except he doesn't realize that Auggie is sitting at the next desk over, wearing a Halloween mask. It's a devastating betrayal, one that sends Auggie bolting for the bathroom in tears and swearing never to return to school. Luckily his big sister, Via, prods him into returning, saying that learning to cope with the awful days is part of growing up and facing life. Plus she threatens to rat him out. She's still his sister, after all.
Auggie goes back to school, but drops Jack like the proverbial hot potato, leaving his former friend hurt and bewildered. Of course Jack eventually figures out where things went off the rails, and when he does, he feels like a super jerk—and shortly thereafter a showdown between Jack and mean-kid Julian ends up with somebody missing a baby tooth.
Jack and August make up and it seems like life is getting back on track… at least until Jack returns from winter break and finds himself suddenly a total social reject. Julian has turned the entire class against Jack for his decision to remain friends with Auggie "The Freak" Pullman. Jack's loyalty is truly put to the test now, as he suffers social isolation on par with Auggie's. If he ditches Auggie, he gets to hang with the popular crowd—but Auggie and Summer are pretty much the only kids still speaking to him, giving him support even though he's let Auggie down in the past.
The climax of the story comes when the fifth graders are away at nature camp. Auggie and Jack are accosted in the woods one night by some big seventh-graders looking for trouble, and Auggie is verbally and physically assaulted for no reason other than his appearance. A few other boys from Auggie's class circle back to see what's going on, but when they step in to help, the situation explodes into a scuffle. Sweatshirts are ripped, elbows get scraped, and most painfully, Auggie's expensive hearing aids are lost in the night.
Auggie is terrified and hurt, but exhilarated too. Even in pain and in tears, he realizes that boys who have until this point either actively shunned or passively ignored him have, on this occasion, stood up for him and protected him, and have pledged to continue to do so. The injustice of the cruelty toward August catalyzes a permanent change for the better in his classmates' attitudes.
This turning point signals the end of Auggie's painful isolation. His peers finally accept him as one of their own—as a kid with a heart, a brain, and a great sense of humor in addition to his weird face. Auggie's fifth grade year culminates in victory, and he is admired by students and teachers alike for his courage, his perseverance in the face of difficulty, and the quiet strength of his character.
- Part 1 of Wonder is called "August"—as in our main man, not the last month of summer vacation.
- With this in mind, it makes sense that the book begins with Auggie introducing himself by explaining some of the ways he is and isn't ordinary.
- Ordinary: he eats ice cream, rides his bike, has an Xbox and a dog.
- Not ordinary: ordinary kids run screaming when they see his face.
- If he had only one wish ever in his entire life, Auggie would wish for a normal face.
- Auggie's family has gotten pretty good at ignoring the reactions of others when they see his face. Except for Via, his sister, that is—she still isn't any good at tolerating rudeness.
- Auggie can boil the ordinary/not-ordinary discussion down to "the only reason I'm not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way" (1.Ordinary.2).
- And no, he's not going to describe himself.
Why I Didn't Go to School
- Even though he looks radically different from other kids, the actual reason Auggie has not attended school is that he has had twenty-seven surgeries since birth. Which means he's been pretty busy.
- It's not that Auggie doesn't want to go to school. He used to want to, but only if he could also look like everyone else.
- He has a few good friends he has known since he was little, but his best friend moved to Connecticut and those who are still around have gotten pretty busy with school and life, and have made new friends.
- Auggie doesn't get invited to very many birthday parties. He wonders if he might be overthinking birthday parties.
How I Came to Life
- The story of Auggie's birth has evolved into a hilarious family story.
- Although they had some idea before his birth that Auggie has a cleft palate and some other issues, nobody is prepared for the extent of his facial deformity when he is born.
- His newborn face is so upsetting, the cranky young doctor who delivers him faints—yes, passes out cold—when he see him.
- Auggie's mother describes the chronically farting nurse nudging the unconscious young doctor with her foot while yelling at him to wake up, but also holding her down so she cannot run out of the room as they take baby Auggie away before she can even see him.
- He is not expected to live through his first night.
- The farting nurse turns out to be really supportive and cool, staying with Auggie's mom the whole time as she learns how sick baby Auggie is; Nurse Farty holds her hand when she finally gets to see him for the first time.
- Despite his deformity, Auggie's mom sees how pretty his eyes are.
- Auggie wants us to know that everyone else in his family is good-looking.
- Auggie overhears his mom talking to his friend Christopher's mom about Auggie attending school.
- She knows Auggie needs to learn more than she can teach him—she's terrible at fractions, or instance.
- His mom thinks that a school called Beecher Prep is the right place for Auggie to go since it is close by, a good school, and not too big.
- Auggie, however, isn't into this whole going-to-school idea. Neither is his dad.
- Auggie can tell his parents are going to get into it.
- Auggie falls asleep on the drive home from his friend's house.
- He has to sleep with his head on a towel because he drools when he sleeps; when he awakes, he can hear his parents softly discussing him again.
- Mom's position is that they can't keep protecting him, but Dad's is that sending him to middle school is like "sending a lamb to slaughter" (1.Driving.4).
- Auggie wants to know what's up with that expression, but no one tells him.
- He starts to cry at the thought of everyone staring at him.
- His parents want him to meet the principal.
- Apparently they've already met the principal, showed him family photos, toured the school, and had Auggie tested for admission—all without his knowledge.
- Auggie cries foul, and his parents admit they probably should have been more, uh, transparent about the process. Oops.
- But they very sincerely tell him how much they love him, want to protect him, and do what is best for him. They discuss all the reasons why Auggie should go to school (fractions and stuff), why he should go to this particular school (it's close by), and why he should start this year: lots of kids will also be new, he'll make lots of friends, and learn lots of stuff.
- When Auggie hears that the principal's name is Mr. Tushman, he and his dad crack up about it.
- They crack up even more when Auggie's dad tells him about Roberta "Bobbie" Butt, a professor he had in college. Auggie's dad is really funny.
- By the time Via wakes up, Auggie has come around to the idea of going to school.
Paging Mr. Tushman
- Auggie meets Mr. Tushman at Beecher Prep.
- Auggie feels shy, but Mr. Tushman is really nice and reassuring.
- When they enter the school, it smells like a hospital.
Nice Mrs. Garcia
- Auggie meets Mrs. Garcia, Mr. Tushman's assistant.
- She is really nice, but still does a split-second look-away that Auggie always encounters when people first see him. She recovers quickly with a big, shiny, overcompensating smile, and is very welcoming.
- Auggie's mom comments on a cute baby photo on Mrs. Garcia's desk, and after just a few moments of talking and laughing, Mrs. Garcia relaxes and promises to take very good care of Auggie.
- Auggie likes this more genuine Mrs. Garcia that emerges, and realizes that she was just nervous initially—just like him.
Jack Will, Julian, and Charlotte
- While chatting and feeling more relaxed in Mr. Tushman's office, Auggie hears kids' voices outside the door.
- He starts to freak out.
- Mr. Tushman has arranged for Auggie to meet and tour the school with a few students from his grade. He doesn't want to meet any kids, though.
- Little kids are never a problem for Auggie, because when they say stupid stuff they aren't out to hurt your feelings—but older kids know what they're saying.
- Mr. Tushman and Auggie's mom reassure him, big time.
- The kids enter the office. Introductions are, you know, awkward.
- Auggie is mad at his mom, until he sees how scared she is too.
- The kids set off on the tour.
The Grand Tour
- Charlotte, Julian, and Jack are quiet until they start talking about the classrooms they visit, bickering amiably amongst themselves about their differing opinions of various teachers.
- Julian points out a chalkboard. The chalk. Chairs. An eraser.
- Charlotte steps in, telling Julian that surely Auggie knows what an eraser is.
- Auggie is so quiet the kids are not even sure if he can talk—so they ask him if he can.
- He mumbles that he can, assures them he knows what an eraser is, but then lets on that he doesn't really understand what homeroom is.
- Charlotte explains, but Julian smirks.
- Jack Will wants to move the tour along, but Charlotte says they are supposed to be answering questions.
- When Charlotte asks if Auggie has other questions, he asks Jack if his name is Jack or Jack Will. Here's the deal: Jack is the first name, Will is the last name.
- Julian is snarky again. (A pattern seems to be emerging with this kid, right?)
- Charlotte moves the tour on.
The Performance Space
- The kids head to the auditorium. While Charlotte rhapsodizes about her performance in Oliver! Julian ogles Auggie out of the corner of his eye. Auggie has seen this move before. Stealth-staring? Nice try (not).
- Jack hangs back while Charlotte tells Auggie that the school does a play every year.
- Julian tells her that—duh—Auggie won't be in the play, but she counters, saying he can do lots of things for the play without being on the stage. They bicker about theater jobs, Charlotte tells Julian he is being obnoxious, Julian laughs.
- Auggie announces that he has chosen the science elective anyway, which Julian pronounces to be the hardest elective.
- Julian doubts whether Auggie can handle it. He just can't wrap his mind around the mysteries of homeschooling: how a kid can actually learn anything without a real teacher?
- Jack stays out of it. Still.
- Julian asks Auggie why his hair is so long, and then becomes more openly hostile, asking Auggie if he was in a fire.
- When Charlotte tells him he is being rude, Julian passive-aggressively hides behind the excuse that Mr. Tushman told them they could ask questions.
- Charlotte tells Julian to shut up.
- As the group leaves the auditorium, Auggie and Jack make real, legit eye contact. Auggie smiles at Jack.
- Jack smiles back and says that Julian is a jerk. He also tells Auggie to talk.
- So Auggie corrects Julian about his use of the word "supposably," and when he does, Charlotte backs him up.
- Less than thrilled, Julian cuts in front of Auggie and makes him stumble, but pretends it's an accident.
- The kids all return to Mr. Tushman's office and everyone is very polite.
- With a pre-arranged signal, Auggie lets his mom know that he is ready to leave. He's really ready to get going.
- He high-tails it out of there, and even though he's really uncomfortable about what went down with Julian, he tells Mr. Tushman that everyone was really nice.
- Like every mom in the entire world, Auggie's mom can barely wait to start grilling him about how he feels like the visit went.
- He stalls her.
- Once home, Auggie seeks the refuge of his room and the comfort of slobbery kisses from his beloved dog, Daisy.
- Now safe, he shares the details with his mom about the tour with Charlotte, Julian, and Jack.
- Mom pegs Julian right off as the kind of kid who behaves differently with adults than he does with other kids, but she is still deeply shocked when she hears that Julian asked Auggie if he had been in a fire.
- Auggie mentions how the other kids stood up for him.
- His mom seems super-upset-but-trying-not-to-show-it; she even gives him the chance to opt out.
- But Auggie has made up his mind: he wants to go to school.
First Day Jitters
- The excited and nervous Pullman family all walk Auggie to school together.
- Auggie describes the feeling that the streets and buildings and sidewalks that are totally familiar to him suddenly feel new and different.
- Auggie keeps his head down, mostly, but doesn't feel like absolutely everyone is staring.
- His family reassures him. They wish him a great first day and send him off with hugs and kisses. He skedaddles before his mom has a chance to cry.
- Auggie's summer tour of the school pays off on his first day: he knows exactly where to go, and makes a beeline for homeroom.
- Kids stare, but he pretends not to notice.
- Auggie chooses a desk and keeps his head down, but kids still avoid the desk next to him.
- Charlotte says hi, Julian does not.
- Jack takes the desk next to Auggie.
- The teacher takes roll, hands out locks, and smiles like she means it.
- She makes a kid named Henry sit in the empty seat next to Auggie instead of at the same desk as his friend, which Henry responds to by blocking Auggie from view with his backpack.
- When everyone is practicing opening their locks, Auggie gets it right away.
- Henry can't open his lock, and Auggie notes that he would have been happy to help Henry—if not for the backpack rudeness.
Around the Room
- Homeroom teacher Ms. Petosa introduces herself to the class and asks the kids to introduce themselves with two things they want others to know about them.
Lamb to the Slaughter
- Auggie has googled the lamb to the slaughter expression and learned that it is "Something you say about someone who goes somewhere calmly, not knowing that something unpleasant is going to happen to them" (1.Lamb to the Slaughter.1).
- He is thinking about this when Ms. Petosa calls on him.
- When he mumbles, Ms. Petosa makes him speak up—so Auggie forces himself to look up and speak clearly.
- When the teacher asks if anyone has questions for Auggie, guess who does? Yup, Julian.
- He asks if Auggie's braid is a Padawan braid, and Auggie has to admit that it is.
- The teacher is politely interested and pursues the topic, not realizing that Julian is laying a trap.
- Julian asks Auggie who his favorite character from Star Wars is, but he really doesn't care about Auggie's answer—he just wants the chance to throw out a reference to Darth Sidious, a character in Star Wars whose face is burned and disfigured by Sith lightning.
- In second period—which is English—Mr. Browne introduces the semester's syllabus.
- He notices Auggie, but keeps "right on talking" (1.Choose Kind.3).
- Mr. Browne introduces the class to "Precepts = Rules about Really Important Things!" (1.Chose Kind.3), and then the class brainstorms important things for a while as Mr. Browne writes their answers up on the board.
- Mr. Browne arrives at "WHO WE ARE!" as the most important of all the Important Things, and the most important question is, "What kind of person am I?"
- The September precept is: "WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND."
- The class will discuss and write about the precept set by Mr. Browne each month.
- Mr. Browne even wants his students to come up with their own personal precept over the summer, and mail it to him from wherever they are. Needless to say, students and teacher alike are amazed that people actually do this.
- Auggie realizes he is going to like school no matter what.
- Not surprisingly, the lunch room is excruciating for Auggie—and since kids won't let him sit down, he heads for an empty table.
- People stare and whisper about him… as though he doesn't realize they are staring and whispering about him.
- Auggie hates the way he eats. Because of his cleft palate, he still has a hole in the roof of his mouth. The way his jaw is structured, he has to chew at the front of his mouth kind of like a tortoise. Crumbs fall out. He eats "like some prehistoric swamp thing" (1.Lunch.6).
The Summer Table
- Enter: Summer.
- Out of nowhere, a girl Auggie has never seen or spoken to appears at his table and asks to join him. She plops down and gets right to complaining about the cafeteria mac and cheese.
- When her friends try to call her back, she says the other table is too crowded, and invites other kids to switch and sit with her instead.
- No one does.
- Summer cheerfully notices that their names—Summer and August—kind of match, and spontaneously dubs the table the "summer only" lunch table.
- Together, Auggie and Summer come up with a list of kids whose names would make them eligible to sit at the summer table, but Summer makes a solemn point that anyone who wants to sit at the table can, so long as they are nice. Auggie totally agrees.
One to Ten
- One to ten is a scale Auggie would use after surgery to let his mom know how much pain he was in, and it has become their standard tool for describing how much any regular thing hurts. His mom asks him about his first day of school using this scale.
- Auggie reports a five, which his mother takes to be very good news.
- He decides that the obnoxious Darth Sidious comment is so far in the past that it doesn't even warrant a mention.
- Summer says bye to August as they are leaving, which makes his mom fizz with a million questions.
- Auggie deftly glosses over specifics, giving his mom minimal info—his mom is so amazed by Auggie having somehow made a friend that he feels kind of annoyed with her.
- Auggie tells his mom his friendship with Summer is "kind of like Beauty and the Beast" (1.One to Ten.37), but he doesn't stick around to hear her reaction.
- After the first day of school, Auggie cuts off his Padawan braid. His dad doesn't care, but his sister is pretty outraged. She has a different understanding of what that braid represents.
- Auggie's dad checks in with him at bedtime, and Auggie assures his dad that the first day was really okay, but double-checks that he could stop going to school if he wanted to.
- His dad says it would depend on the reason, and that they had all agreed that Auggie would tell them if bad things were happening.
- Auggie's mom comes in to say goodnight. She is more neutral about the braid, and proceeds with his bedtime routine.
- Auggie knows it's kind of babyish to still have his parents take turns putting him to bed, "but," he says, "that's just how it was with us" (1.Padawan.33).
- Mom sends Dad to check on Via (first day at a new school for her too), and she reads to Auggie from The Hobbit; Auggie is relieved not to have to talk.
- Suddenly Auggie is in tears. "Why do I have to be so ugly, Mommy?" (1.Padawan.47), he asks.
- She tries to tell him he isn't, but he says he know that he is.
- His mom comforts him as best she can with lots of love and kisses and nice words, but Auggie knows "her words can't change [his] face" (1.Padawan.51).
Wake Me Up When September Ends
- Adjusting to school is hard for Auggie, and not just the whole getting up early and taking tests bits—because on top of that stuff, Auggie also has to deal with all the staring.
- People avoid bumping into him as though his face might be contagious; and they sometimes make an involuntary noise of surprise when they see him, or whisper about him, or elbow each other as they pass.
- Auggie knows they're just being "normal dumb kids" (1.Wake Me Up When September Ends.4), but it doesn't make it feel any better.
- Auggie understands that he is a curiosity. If a Wookiee came to school, for instance, he'd stare. Different things are, uh, different—he just wants everyone to get a grip about it already.
- Here's how long it took for people to get used to seeing his face: One week for the kids he sees every day; two weeks for the other kids in his grade; about a month for the entire rest of the school.
- No matter how shocking any kid at school attempts to appear—with piercings and hair dyes and whatnot—none of them look like Auggie.
- Jack's seat is next to Auggie's in every class. Auggie suspects this has been pre-arranged, but in spite of this, they still walk and talk together in between all their classes.
- One day a big old eighth grader in a hurry crashes into Auggie and knocks him down.
- As the kid helps Auggie up, he is so surprised by Auggie's face that he utters an involuntary whoa.
- Jack has now spent enough time with Auggie to get why this is funny, and they both crack up.
- But Jack also gets why it isn't funny, and asks Auggie if he ever wants to beat up kids that react to him like that.
- They settle instead on a fantasy of squirting them with squirt guns loaded with slug juice and dog pee.
- Jack asks Auggie if he is "always going to look this way" (1.Jack Will.14), and wonders if maybe he can get plastic surgery or something.
- Auggie doesn't miss a beat and says, "Hello? This is after plastic surgery!" (1.Jack Will.15).
- Then the boys laugh so much together that the teacher separates them.
Mr. Browne's October Precept
- The October precept is "YOUR DEEDS ARE YOUR MONUMENTS" (1.Mr. Browne's October Precept.1).
- Auggie writes that one's deeds become monuments—monuments that are made from memories.
- Auggie wants to invite everyone in his homeroom class plus Summer over for his birthday.
- When his mom asks if he wants to include the "what's the deal" kid (a.k.a. Julian), Auggie says she can invite him, and tells her that she should forget about that already.
- A bunch of kids RSVP that they can't come for different reasons. Auggie is a little disappointed.
- Julian's mother hasn't respond at all though, prompting Auggie's mom to comment, "I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" (1.Apples.18).
- About six kids from his class end up coming to the party, so it is smaller than Auggie imagined it would be, but his old friend Christopher comes up from Connecticut too, and his aunt and uncle from Boston, so all in all Auggie feels celebrated.
- It's deep into autumn now, and Summer and Auggie are still the only two kids who lunch at the summer table.
- They discuss their Halloween costumes, and whether dressing up for Halloween at their age is too dorky. (Some kids have decided they've outgrown it).
- August is going to be Boba Fett from Star Wars, while Summer is going to be a unicorn for the Halloween parade, but a Goth girl for school.
- Summer tells Auggie that what she likes best about him is that she can tell him anything.
- Here's a shocker: Auggie really doesn't like having his picture taken.
- So he skips having his portrait taken on picture day, though can't get out of being in the class photo.
- The photographer "looks like he'd just sucked on a lemon" (1.School Pictures.2) when he sees Auggie.
The Cheese Touch
- In dance class, Auggie gets to watch Ximena Chin almost have a full-blown panic attack at the prospect of having to dance with him. Good times.
- In science, a kid named Tristan accidentally brushes Auggie's hand—then jerks his hand away and races over to the sink to wash it, confirming what Auggie had been thinking: he's absolutely untouchable.
- Auggie loves Halloween—even more than Christmas.
- He gets to wear a costume, a mask, which is the best because it means he doesn't get stared at.
- He wishes every day could be Halloween so that everyone could get to know one another "before we got to see what we looked like under the masks" (1.Costumes.2).
- Auggie used to wear an astronaut helmet everywhere, every day.
- But the helmet got lost at some point, and he had to get used to not wearing it anymore.
- Auggie can tell you every Halloween costume he has ever worn. His mom has made him a killer Boba Fett costume this year.
- Kids in his homeroom class have all shared their costume plans—in a weird coincidence, Julian had planned to be Jango Fett.
- On the morning of Halloween, Via is having a crying meltdown and Auggie's dad is stressing out because he can't be late. It's not pretty at the Pullman house.
- At the last minute, Auggie grabs his bleeding Scream costume from last year because he can put it on by himself and so that his dad can get out the door more quickly.
The Bleeding Scream
- Auggie loves wearing a mask at school. He doesn't have to keep his head down.
- He even gets a high-five in the hall—looks like he's about to have one of the best days of his life.
- The first thing Auggie sees when he gets to homeroom is Darth Sidious talking to two mummies. Who could possibly be under that Darth Sidious mask? Oh right—Julian.
- The kids are watching the door, waiting for Boba Fett to walk in, but since Auggie is behind a different mask, he walks into homeroom undetected.
- He stealthily sits down at a nearby desk.
- The kids are discussing how much the Darth Sidious mask actually looks like August. They compare him to a shrunken head, and say they think he looks like an orc.
- Julian laughs that if he looked like Auggie, he'd wear a hood over his face every day; one of the mummies says he would kill himself if he looked like Auggie.
- This has got to be the worst conversation to overhear, right?
- And it only gets worse.
- Julian asks the mummy, "Then why do you hang out with him so much?" (1.The Bleeding Scream.12)—and Auggie listens as Jack the mummy tells Julian he only hangs out with Auggie because Mr. Tushman asked him to. The seating was prearranged and Auggie follows him around, so what's he supposed to do?
- Julian's answer? Ditch him.
- In tears under his mask, Auggie flees.
- After crying for who-knows-how long in the bathroom, Auggie goes to the nurse's office saying he doesn't feel well.
- His mom picks him up.
- He doesn't tell her anything, and there is conveniently a stomach bug going around anyway.
- Auggie feels so terrible that he doesn't even want to trick-or-treat. Now his mom knows for sure he ain't right.
- Auggie exploits the stomach flu fiction the next day too, which gets him through to the weekend.
- He is pretty sure he is never, ever going back to school.
A Tour of the Galaxy
- Guess what? We have a new narrator. And guess who it is? Auggie's big sister Via… which is probably why Part 2 is called "Via."
- Via uses the galaxy as a metaphor for her family, with August as the sun and everyone else orbiting around him. She is used to her universe being this way, with August's needs, by default, making all of her needs a distant second priority.
- She doesn't mind; she understands; it is all she has ever known.
- She wants us to know she isn't being noble: August has suffered. A lot.
- But then she tells us: "The galaxy is changing. Planets are falling out of alignment" (2.A Tour of the Galaxy.5).
- Stay tuned.
- Via reflects on the brief years that she was the only child. She sees in photos that she really was the "first child, first grandchild, first niece" (2.Before August.1) and the center of her parents' universe. But she doesn't remember at all how that might have felt.
- Via had a doll named Lilly before Auggie was born, so that she could practice her big sister moves.
- When August came home from the hospital, she very quietly looked at him for a while.
- She noted that he didn't look like her doll, but very soon was "all over him: kissing him, cuddling him, baby talking to him" (2.Before August.2).
- And that was the end of her relationship with Lilly the doll forever.
- Via explains how she really never saw August the way other people see him until she went to live with her Grans for a month. She has the best time ever during her stay, since Grans is a lot of fun—and she gets to live a completely un-stared at life while she is there.
- Those weeks away give her just enough distance that when she sees Auggie again, she has a "tiny fraction of a moment" (2.Seeing August.4) where she sees her brother the way others do.
- She describes the experience as having given her a little peephole between the two Augusts: "the one I saw blindly, and the one other people saw" (2.Seeing August.6).
- Via is able to share this uncomfortable thought with her Grans, whom she loves with all her heart, and who loves Via "more than anyone else in the world" (2.Seeing August.10).
- Grans knows that Auggie has lots of people who love him and care for him—and she understands instinctively that Via needs someone to whom she can be the most special, most cherished, most loved.
- It is heartbreaking for Via (and for Via's mom) when her Grans dies unexpectedly of a heart attack shortly after their month-long stay together.
August Through the Peephole
- Via gives us lots of detail about Auggie's face and some of the corrective surgeries he has had.
- She wonders how August sees himself, about how much he does or does not understand about how the world sees him.
- She wishes she could ask him, but at the same time a part of her is annoyed that he doesn't just open his mouth and tell his family what he thinks and how he feels. He's ten-years-old, after all, and she kind of resents that everyone still circles around his every mood or need, that he is still treated like a baby.
- Via thinks it's time for August to grow up already.
- Via has a secret identity. Sort of. At school she goes by Olivia.
- She liked middle school not only because was it separate from home, but also because being the sister of a deformed kid wasn't always the very first thing people knew about her.
- She likes high school, too, because even fewer people know about Auggie. (Her friends Miranda and Ella don't bring him up at school).
- The girls were super happy when they all got into the same high school, but once school starts, everything seems different.
- Of all Via's her friends, Miranda has always been the sweetest to Auggie—she's the person who bought him the astronaut helmet that he loved so much.
- One of their special things was to blast David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and sing along with it.
- Miranda, Ella, and Via have been friends for years.
- Via is surprised to find out that Miranda has been back from camp for a couple weeks but hasn't called her; they don't see each other until the first day of school.
- When she sees Miranda's new hot pink hairstyle and tube top, Via's shocked.
- Miranda is distant, and treats her like a casual acquaintance.
- Her other friend Ella's style has changed too and Via realizes that Miranda and Ella have seen each other a couple times over summer. Uh, thanks a lot, you guys.
- She feels alienated, excluded, and hurt.
- Via is supposed to get a ride home from school with Miranda, but she totally can't deal with that, so she lies to Miranda to get out of it.
- She takes the bus and the subway home, then lies to her mom about why it took so long for her to get there.
- She asks her mom about Auggie's day, but she's also kind of hair-trigger emo about everything, which surprises her mom.
- Via storms into Auggie's room to ask about his day. He's zoned out on video games, in a galaxy far, far away.
- She grabs the PlayStation from him; he yells at her.
- She asks about his day; he yells at her.
- She asks if people were nice; he snaps, "Why would people be mean?" (2.After School.30). Whoa—sarcasm. Via didn't know Auggie had it in him. The kid's officially a middle schooler.
The Padawan Bites the Dust
- Via is upset that Auggie cuts off his Padawan braid without a word to anyone.
- When Via's mom checks in with her after dinner, Via notices she looks pretty drained.
- Via's not able to share her sadness with her mom, but later she talks a bit with her dad about Miranda and Ella.
- He tells her that nothing tests friendships like high school, and then teases her a little about reading War and Peace.
- He makes her laugh, which takes the edge off her sadness, and tells her not to be mad at her mom—Auggie had a rough first day.
- Via asks her dad to bring the dog, Daisy, to sleep with her, and he kisses them both goodnight.
An Apparition at the Door
- Via remembers seeing her mom hovering just outside Auggie's door in the middle of the night. She wonders if her mom ever stood outside her door that way.
- Family argument time: Via doesn't want to carpool home with Miranda so she'll take the subway.
- Mom isn't ready for this, but Dad insists that Via is totally old enough and capable enough and smart enough because sheesh, she's reading War and Peace already.
- There is no evidence—zero, nada, zip—that anyone on either side of the family ever suffered from an affliction like Auggie's.
- Here are the specifics: August has a "previously unknown type of mandibulofacial dysotosis caused by an autosomal recessive mutation in the TCOF1 gene, which is located on chromosome 5, complicated by a hemifacial microsomia characteristic of OAV spectrum."
- And though there's no visual indicator when you see them, both of Via and August's parents are carriers of that particular gene mutation.
- Via is also a carrier.
- For a high school freshman, Via knows a ton of genetics.
- She likes how doctors talk, because she appreciates "how words you don't understand explain things you can't understand" (2.The Punnett Square.4).
- Based on her risk factors, Via has decided she will never have a baby.
Out with the Old
- Miranda, Ella, and Via part ways, with Miranda and Ella joining the super-popular group and Via hitting the library to read instead of talking about people that don't interest her.
- Via finishes War and Peace, and ends up making friends with the smart-kids group.
- Ever since Grans died the night before Halloween four years ago, Halloween has been a rough day for Via. She wakes up missing her Grandmother.
- Perhaps fueled by her sadness, Via bitterly observes that her mother spends weeks working on costumes for Auggie every year but never makes her one.
- Still, Via's mom lets her stay home from school that morning, and she and her mom cry together. They both miss Grans so much.
- They curl up together to watch an old movie.
- A call from Auggie's school interrupts—Auggie is sick, so Mom goes to pick him up. "So much for the old movies and the mother-daughter bonding,"(2.October 31.4) Via laments.
- Auggie comes home, throws up, and goes to bed.
- Via feels like her mom is two people—Via's mom and Auggie's mom. Via's mom is officially gone, and Auggie's mom is out in full force (2.October 31.5).
- Poor Via's been eclipsed again.
Trick or Treat
- Via knows how much Auggie has suffered after surgery, so she just doesn't buy it when Auggie says he's sick on Halloween. She knows it would take a lot more than a little nausea to kill this kid's dedication to the almighty Halloween.
- She gets to the heart of the matter, asks the right question, and Auggie shares The Jack Betrayal.
- Holding his hand while dear old Daisy licks the tears off Auggie's face, Via persuades him to go to the Halloween parade anyway.
- Via can tell that Auggie begins to feel better just by getting into his costume.
Time to Think
- Tough-love-style, Via works her little brother over about his decision not to go back to school—she knows he really likes is, so she doesn't want him to throw in the towel just yet.
- She informs Auggie that everyone hates school sometimes, that she even occasionally hates school and has bad days.
- Auggie asks her if people go out of their way to avoid touching her, and Via wisely responds by saying, "Don't compare your bad days at school to mine" (2.Time to Think.17)—whose days are worse isn't a contest.
- And then Via doles out some tough love: "Now unless you want to be treated like a baby the rest of your life, or like a kid with special needs, you just have to suck it up and go" (2.Time to Think.18).
- Via offers her brother some strategies for handling his friends (ex-friends?), but every time she gives him a bit of advice, Auggie asks her how things have worked out with Miranda.
- Apparently Miranda called the other day. But not for Via.
- She called to tell Auggie that she would always love him like a big sister. Via is "Double-stunned. Stung. Flabbergasted" (2.Time to Think.35). And so are we—what is that about?
- Via threatens to tell their parents what happened at school if Auggie doesn't go back.
- That breaks him, and Auggie says he'll return.
- As an afterthought, Via asks if Miranda said anything about her when she called. Auggie replies, "She said to tell you she misses you. Quote unquote" (2.Time to Think.44).
- Via is (secretly) super happy to hear that.
- New narrator. Yes—again. This time we're hanging out with Summer… but you probably guessed that already because you are super smart and you noticed that Part 3 is named after her.
- Summer is awesome because she doesn't have a single hang-up about just being nice.
- Kids ask her why she hangs out with "the freak," and she tells them, "Because he's a nice kid! … and don't call him that" (3.Weird Kids.2).
- Kids want to know if Mr. Tushman asked her to be his friend. The answer, of course, is no.
- Summer simply explains that she sat with Auggie that first day because she felt sorry for him—she saw a new kid in a tough spot, and couldn't leave him hanging. End of story.
- She admits that he's "the weirdest-looking kid she has ever seen," but what she sees first is that he's just a kid.
- Summer—we think you're a pretty great kid.
- Summer doesn't feel sorry for Auggie anymore though, and now she hangs out with him because he is fun.
- Other kids are too worried about being cool to play, but neither Summer nor Auggie care so they play four-square at recess and enjoy themselves.
- Summer learns that there is a "game" in which anyone who accidentally touches August has thirty seconds to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, or they have the Plague.
The Halloween Party
- The kids in the popular group invite Summer to their Halloween party—so they can grill her about why she hangs out with August, inform her that she'd be way more popular if she didn't hang out with him, and make sure she knows that she has to choose one or the other.
- Gee, thanks for the invite…
- Faced with these attitudes from her classmates, Summer quietly calls her mom and gets herself right on out of Dodge.
- Summer makes diplomatic excuses later for having left the party early, and for not being interested in Julian.
- August comes back to school very withdrawn, and Summer gets "a really bad vibe" from him.
- She tries to carry on a normal lunch conversation, but August is having none of it.
- August tells Summer he knows Mr. Tushman told her to be his friend, and that she didn't have to be.
- Summer makes a big point of telling Auggie that Mr. Tushman did not talk to her at all.
- She's mad, and she lets Auggie have it—this girl does not like being accused of things.
- Auggie apologizes and tells Summer about what happened with Jack. Now she understands.
- He makes her swear not to tell anyone, and she makes him swear not to be mean to her like that again.
- They pinky-swear.
Warning: This Kid is Rated R
- August goes over to Summer's house.
- When Summer's mom is visibly shaken by his physical appearance, Summer busts her—telling her to "stop making that weirded-out face!" (3.Warning: This Kid is Rated R.5).
- Summer's father, a platoon sergeant, died a few years ago.
- Summer and August discuss reincarnation—August likes the idea of his soul coming back in a big, handsome bod.
- Summer asks Auggie if she can ask him a question, and when she does, he knows what's coming.
- She wants to know what is wrong with Auggie's face, but only if he is okay with her asking.
- He explains his issues and abnormalities, and jokes that he is something of a medical wonder.
- Summer admires how August is able to have such a great sense of humor about himself, and August proudly replies that he is "cool beans."
The Egyptian Tomb
- Summer and August have fun working together on their Egyptian Museum projects, spending time at one another's houses, and they have a great time leading their parents through the Egypt exhibit while dressed up as mummies.
- On the day of the Egyptian Museum Exhibit, Jack asks Summer if she knows why August is mad at him.
- She does know, but she can't tell him.
- Jack is completely in the dark, and not just because the lights in the gym are off—so Summer gives him the hint, "Bleeding Scream."
- Say hello to Jack, Part 4's narrator and namesake. Flashback to August—the month, not the kid.
- Jack's mom talks to Mr. Tushman on the phone. He's is hoping that Jack can be a "welcome buddy" for a new student.
- His mom is proud that teachers have mentioned Jack as a really nice kid, saying that it's "very flattering but kind of sad, too" (4.The Call.4).
- When Jack asks why it is sad, she says the new boy "has some sort of… um, I guess there's something wrong with his face… or something like that" (4.The Call.12).
- Jack doesn't want to do it. He knows exactly which kid they are talking about and says, "He's deformed" (4.The Call.22).
- His mom doesn't let him say no automatically though, and asks him to think about it a bit.
- The first time Jack sees August is in front of a neighborhood ice cream store. Without meaning to, he makes a noise of surprise when he glimpses August's face. The babysitter, Veronica, peels out of there before Jack's little brother, Jamie, says something embarrassing—she knows he's going to.
- August didn't hear Jack's exclamation, but his sister sure did and she gives him the stinkeye as they away hustle down the sidewalk.
- As Veronica scolds Jack and Jamie, they are confused. They are also curious. Jack's little brother thinks maybe it is Halloween and asks, "… why was that boy wearing a mask?" (4.Carvel.15).
- Veronica has a hard time knowing how to explain what just happened to the boys. She feels bad for the way they all reacted to the situation, telling the boys, "sometimes you don't have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone" (4.Carvel.23).
- Ever since that day, Jack has seen August around the neighborhood.
- All the neighborhood kids know about August.
- They know his name, but he doesn't know any of theirs—which is really sad.
Why I Changed My Mind
- Jack decides to be one of August's welcome buddies after all.
- He doesn't do it to avoid a lecture from his mom.
- He doesn't do it to protect August from Julian, who he knows is going "to be a jerk about the whole thing" (4.Why I Changed My Mind.38).
- He agrees to help August because he suddenly feels terrible about the time his younger brother ran screaming from the sight of August. Right in front of August.
- Jack's mom is mortified when she hears about this. She's disappointed in her boys, calls for them to be more sympathetic, and scolds Jamie for using the word ugly to describe August.
- Jack changes his mind because he realizes "if a little kid like Jamie, who's usually a nice enough kid, can be that mean, then a kid like August doesn't stand a chance in middle school" (4.Why I Changed My Mind.38).
- (1) "You do get used to his face" (4.Four Things.1).
- (2) August is "a really cool dude" (4.Four Things.2).
- (3) August is smart.
- (4) Jack wants to be friends with August, because August is a really good friend.
- Jack is mystified by Summer's "Bleeding Scream" hint when he asks about why August was acting mad at him. Jack has been totally confused by August's sudden about-face.
- He decides to ignore August like August is ignoring him. They ignore each other really well.
- Jack notes that this is good because since he isn't hanging out with August, he can hang out with anyone he wants to—especially the popular kids who won't go near August.
- But it's bad because, well, he doesn't really like the popular kids. He likes August.
- And obviously the whole thing is August's fault. (This is not obvious at all to Shmoop, to be clear—but it definitely is to Jack in this chapter).
- On a snow day right before Thanksgiving, Jack finds an abandoned sled in the park. He fixes it up, christens it Lightning, and it's the fastest and best sled he's ever ridden.
- When the kids go back to school, he wants to tell August about Lightning.
- But he doesn't.
Fortune Favors the Bold
- For his December paragraph about the precept "Fortune favors the bold," Jack avoids writing that the bravest thing he ever did was to become friends with August. He is afraid he might have to read his piece aloud, or have it pinned to the bulletin board where everyone could see it, so he makes up some other dumb thing.
- He wonders what August wrote about because, he thinks, "he probably had a lot of things to choose from" (4.Fortune Favors the Bold.3).
- Being in private school doesn't automatically mean a family is rich, and Jack's family struggles to make ends meet. They live on the top floor of a five-story walkup in a neighborhood where people "don't want to park their cars" (4.Private School.1)—which probably works out okay because they don't even have a car anymore.
- But at school, he rubs shoulders with kids who have to endure Paris for the holidays (how boring), and who get $800 sleds.
- Jack is horrified when he learns that he is "the hobo who had taken the sled" (4.Private School.25) that his classmate Miles abandoned in the park over the Thanksgiving break.
- One kid's trash may be another kid's treasure, but this is just a totally rough moment for Jack.
- School isn't really Jack's thing. When he and August were friends, he was performing better since August helped him out a lot with notes and stuff.
- When he hears the class will be embarking on a big new science project, he has a big oh no moment—and then his memory flashes back to that day in homeroom with someone wearing a Bleeding Scream mask.
- Now Jack knows why August is his ex-friend.
- He'd been feeling stupid because his classmates all think he is a weirdo for hanging out with August, so when he said all those things about August he was just "going along."
- Now he feels really stupid and terrible for saying those things about Auggie.
- Immediately on the heels of Jack's staggering epiphany about the Bleeding Scream mask, he gets paired with August for the science-fair project.
- Julian tries to get him reassigned so that they can be partners instead, even though Jack says no.
- Julian asks Jack why he didn't go along with the switch, telling Jack that he doesn't have to be friends with "that freak" (4.Partners.21).
- Pow—Jack punches Julian right in the mouth.
- Shmoop does not condone violence, but this is still a pretty excellent moment.
- Jack's in the hot seat facing expulsion in Mr. Tushman's office. His mom is there too, and no one can believe what's just happened—it's totally out of character.
- Jack won't explain. Can't explain. "It'll just make everything worse," he sighs (4.Detention.13).
- Overwhelmed, Jack starts to cry.
- Since it is so close to winter break, Mr. Tushman decides that Jack should stay home for the rest of the week, spend some time thinking about what happened, write some letters of explanation and apology, and if all those criteria are met, he can return after break with a clean slate.
- Mr. Tushman says everything is going to be okay, and he quietly says something to Jack's mom that Jack doesn't hear.
- We get the sense that Mr. Tushman has some idea about what precipitated Jack's explosion.
- When Jack and his mom get home from school, they find holiday cards from both Julian's and August's families. Guess whose card has a photo of the dog on it?
- And, speaking of photos, Jack says he heard that not only did Julian's mother Photoshop August's face out of the class photo, but she also gave copies of the altered photo to other moms.
- His mom asks if that is why he hit Julian.
- Jack says no, and tells her the whole terrible story about Halloween and everything since.
Letters, Emails, Facebook, Texts
- All the aforementioned forms of communication are flying over the winter break. (Send All the Words).
- Jack writes his letters of apology to Mr. Tushman and Julian.
- In his letter to Mr. Tushman, Jack pleads the Fifth because offering details doesn't make what he did right and he doesn't want to get Julian in trouble.
- Mr. Tushman responds that even though Jack's violence was unjustifiable, there are almost always more than two sides to every story, and that good friends are worth defending. Aw—it seems like Tushman gets it.
- In a letter from Julian's mother to Mr. Tushman, and cc'ing Jack's parents, we read that Julian's parents support Mr. Tushman's decision not to expel Jack because they have known Jack since forever and they know he's a good kid and that his actions won't be repeated.
- However (you knew there was going to be a however in this lady's letter)… The pressure of befriending "the new child with special needs" (4.Letter, Emails, Facebook, Texts.6) may have contributed to Jack's outburst, and she chose to let Julian "off the hook" about being friends with the new boy when he found it difficult.
- The rest of her letter complains that this new child probably shouldn't have been admitted to Beecher Prep in the first place since it isn't an inclusion school.
- Mr. Tushman responds to her letter by clarifying that the new student, August (because he actually has a name), does not have special needs, nor is he disabled, handicapped, or developmentally delayed. As such, whether Beecher Prep is an inclusion school or not is irrelevant.
- He informs Julian's mom that August is a good student who has made good friends—like Jack Will, for starters.
- He also addresses the "too much pressure" concern by saying, "I did not think asking these children to be especially kind to a new student would place any extra 'burdens' or 'hardships' on them. In fact, I thought it would teach them a thing or two about empathy, and friendship, and loyalty" (4.Letters, Emails, Facebook, Texts.8). Apparently Julian falls into the old dog category when it comes to such wild and crazy new tricks.
- Jack's parents also respond to Julian's mother's letter, to say that they are touched by her concern, and that they checked with Jack to see if he felt any "undue pressure" (4.Letters, Emails, Facebook, Texts.12) about being friends with August—but Jack has given them a really clear no in response.
- Jack Will sends August a friend request on Facebook and an email apologizing to him.
- They clear the air and finish patching up their friendship via text messages.
Back from Winter Break
- Although Jack hoped to return to school with a clean slate, he now finds himself dissed and ditched by every single boy at school except August and the two Maxes. Two words: Julian's payback.
- Rather than sit alone at lunch, which feels really crummy (who knew?), he goes to the library.
- Charlotte arranges to meet Jack privately, and tells him what's what.
- At a huge holiday party, Julian broadcast a twisted story: Jack developed emotional problems from the pressure of having to be friends with August, which is why he punched poor widdle Julian.
- Julian's mom is trying to get August's application reviewed, on account of his "special needs."
- Jack can't believe that anyone has fallen for any of this (neither can Shmoop, Jack, neither can Shmoop), but Charlotte's point is that the truth is beside the point. At this point.
- Julian is really popular and has told everyone to stop being friends with Jack until he decides not to hang out with August anymore—you know, for Jack's own good.
- Charlotte explains that all this is mostly happening among the boys, and that except for the popular group, most of the girls are staying neutral.
- Neutral or not, she still makes sure nobody sees her leaving the room.
- Some boys who Jack tries to join at lunch get up to switch tables but get busted and sent back. "Oh great, like that was going to help," Jack says (4.Switching Tables.4).
- So Jack gets up and moves before he has to face them again, even though he's not supposed to do that either.
- Summer (of course) invites Jack to sit with her and August.
Why I Didn't Sit with August the First Day of School
- Guess what's for lunch today? Hypocrisy.
- Jack recalls that he avoided sitting with August at lunch on the first day of school because he just wanted some "normal time to chill with other kids" (4.Why I Didn't Sit with August.2).
- He recognizes how brave Summer is to have joined August for lunch that first day.
- When Jack finds himself up a creek, Summer and August are there for him, being "totally nice" to him, "as always" (4.Why I Didn't Sit with August.4).
- Jack gives them a carefully edited version of the story he heard from Charlotte, boiling it down to Julian having turned the whole grade against him.
- When Jack comments on how weird it feels to have people "pretending you don't even exist," (4.Why I Didn't Sit with August.5) Auggie quips, "Welcome to my world" (4.Why I Didn't Sit with August.7).
- Charlotte has given Summer a list to give to Jack indicating which side everyone has ended up on. Thanks?
- Auggie finds out that what he figured was some kind of "Cheese Touch" involving him was actually called the Plague, which he decides is cooler anyway.
- There's some talk of who likes whom.
- Summer says her mom says they're all too young to be dating anyway, which Auggie thinks is too bad since so many babes "keep throwing themselves at [him]" (4.Sides.26).
- Jack laughs so hard that milk comes out his nose, and the three of them totally crack up.
- It's the middle of January before Jack ever visits August's house, and when he finally does he worries that Auggie's parents will know about the Halloween incident. But it turns out they don't. And they're not really even home anyway.
- He is impressed by Auggie's Star Wars collection and all his cool electronics, plus he's totally smitten with Auggie's adorable dog, Daisy.
- The boys are discussing what to make for the science fair project when Via walks into Auggie's room.
- Via looks carefully at Jack, who realizes that not only does she know about the Halloween incident, but she also recognizes him from that day in front of the ice cream shop. Awkward.
- Via comes back into Auggie's room in a couple minutes and introduces her friend Justin to August and Jack.
- Jack says Justin seems nervous, and that he had forgotten "what a shock it is the first time you meet him" (4.The Boyfriend.3).
- Auggie teases Via about her boyfriend, but Justin is cool and the kids chat about Justin's fiddle that looks like it's in a machine gun case, and Zydeco music, which Justin loves.
- As soon as Justin and Via are out the door, Auggie and Jack crack up about him.
- With Justin as our narrator, Via is always Olivia, and capitalization and punctuation are optional. With that out of the way, we'd like to welcome you to Part 5 of our book, titled… drum roll please… "Justin."
- Justin meets Auggie and Jack at Olivia's. He is surprised by Auggie's face and hopes his surprise doesn't show too much, but he's perceptive enough to understand that surprises/not-surprises are "hard to fake."
- He and Olivia have been dating for two months. He liked her the instant he saw her, but it took a while before they started dating. Olivia is friendly and direct, but doesn't flirt.
- After three dates Olivia trusts Justin enough to tell him about August's "craniofacial abnormality"—she does not use the word deformed (5.Olivia's Brother.13).
- As they leave Auggie's room, Olivia checks in with Justin to see how he is handling the shock of meeting Auggie. Years of kids who never return for a second play date have taught her that Auggie's face can be scary.
- But Justin's "not freaked out or scared" (5.Olivia's Brother.25).
- Dinner with Olivia's parents has Justin stressed out. And stress activates Justin's tics. It's a good thing Olivia's parents are super nice.
- Justin notices the waiter's expression when he sees August—he (and everyone else at the table) just pretends not to notice.
- Justin observes that "Olivia is a girl who sees everything" (5.Valentine's Day.6). (See? We warned you in Chapter 74 that capitalization is optional with Justin taking the lead.)
- Everyone has a great time talking and laughing throughout dinner.
- At Olivia's house after dinner, Justin meets Daisy, who has thrown up all over the hallway. He hears the story about how Olivia's bought buys her from a homeless guy and brought her home without even asking anyone first.
- "she's a happy dog, like she knows she lucked out that day finding this family" (5.Valentine'sDay.16), Justin reflects. Then he says, "I kind of know how she feels" (5.Valentine's Day.17). Aw…
- Justin is amazed by the warmth, love, care, and protectiveness of Olivia's family. His family though? More like the opposite of that.
- Justin's tics melt away during his evening with Olivia's family.
- Justin gets the lead in the school play and is a little disappointed that Olivia is just the understudy for the female lead.
- He wonders if she blew the audition on purpose since she's not too comfortable with lots of people staring at her.
- Justin braces himself for an intense six weeks as they get Our Town performance-ready.
- Olivia and Justin run lines on Olivia's front stoop. He flubs. He frets. She encourages him.
- They each make a wish on a ladybug that appears out of nowhere. There is kissing.
The Bus Stop
- Justin and Jack both happen to be leaving the Pullman's place at the same time, so Olivia's mom asks Justin if he minds walking Jack to the bus stop.
- Jack is used to riding the bus by himself and tells Justin he doesn't have to stay, but Justin doesn't mind. He also started riding the subway alone at around that age—it's too young, in his opinion.
- Jack hits Justin up for a dollar and goes across the street to buy some gum.
- From his vantage point at the bus stop, Justin watches three kids follow Jack making throw-up noises and being creepy jerks.
- When Justin asks Jack about it, Jack explains how Julian has turned the whole grade against him, showing him the list with all the names and sides.
- The goon-squad harassment is new, but they have, of course, been leaving "everybody hates you" notes in Jack's locker at school.
- Justin thinks that Jack should tell the teachers what is going on, but Jack looks at him like he is stupid.
- Justin suddenly realizes that Jack is being tormented by his classmates because of his friendship with August.
- After Jack leaves on the bus, Justin approaches the three boys who followed Jack and are still yukking it up.
- He delivers a scary warning to them to leave Jack alone or else.
- Justin is blown away when he learns that Miranda, who got the part of the female lead in the play, has known Auggie since he was a baby. He shrewdly doesn't let on that Olivia/Via has never mentioned this.
- Miranda pulls out some pictures of Auggie when he was little—she's kind of proud of being the person who gave him the astronaut helmet.
- She asks Justin, "so you're okay with it?" (5.Rehearsal.16), and when he has no idea what she means, she replies, "let's face it… the universe was not kind to Auggie Pullman" (5.Rehearsal.18).
- Justin confronts Olivia: why didn't she ever mention that she used to be friends with Miranda? Olivia says the pink-haired cheerleader is not the Miranda she used to know, and gets big fat tears in her eyes.
- Suddenly she is crying because she hasn't told anyone about the play. If she tells her family, they'll want to see the play—of course—and then everyone at school will see Auggie.
- It has been so nice that nobody at school knows about Auggie, and Olivia thinks she is a terrible person for wanting to keep August out of her school world.
- Justin describes her as a fragile little lost bird, and says, "so I give her my wing to hide under" (5.Bird.29).
- Justin processes life very deeply.
- Unable to sleep, he shares insightful and beautiful thoughts about all the people and events in his life, and about balance in the universe: "if it really was random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see" (5.The Universe.4).
- For the record, when Shmoop can't sleep we mostly just count unicorns.
The North Pole
- We get August back as our narrator for Part 6. And yes, that means Part 6 is called "August."
- At the science fair, August feels like the North Pole, a magnetic point toward which all eyes are drawn.
- He is used to the way people react to him in the same way that a person doesn't worry about a little drizzle outside. But when there are over a hundred people in the gym, well, it's no longer a drizzle-it's a deluge.
- P.S. The Spud Lamp gets an A.
The Auggie Doll
- The war in Auggie's class drags on. Julian leaves nasty notes in Jack and Auggie's lockers, which Summer thinks they should report to Mr. Tushman.
- Instead the boys write fictional love notes to Julian from an imaginary (and totally gross) person by the name of Beulah.
- They don't harass August, because if they did they would get busted, but some of the boys play mean tricks on Jack. Jack hangs tough.
- By March kids in the class are getting sick of the war and beginning to see Julian's meanness for what it is. More and more kids drift into the neutral zone.
- August notices that the Plague game has died out too, and no one cringes anymore if they bump into him. Why, even his pencils are now touchable. Movin' on up…
- When August sees Maya writing a note to a friend on Uglydoll, he asks her if she knows that Uglydolls are based on him.
- It takes her a second to realize that he's joking, but then she totally cracks up and tells all her friends. The next day he gets a little Uglydoll keychain with a note from Maya saying, "For the nicest Auggie Doll in the world!" (6.The Auggie Doll.14).
- The icing on the cake is that people have been really nice about Auggie's new hearing aids too.
- School is going remarkably well.
- Auggie dreads wearing hearing aids, but he needs 'em.
- At his fitting, his misery eases slightly when the doc references Lobot from Star Wars.
- (In case you hadn't noticed during the last eighty-four chapters, Auggie really likes himself some Star Wars.)
- Auggie loves the bright, shiny way he hears from the very first moment the doctor turns on his new hearing aids.
- Bonus: no one at school makes a big deal about the new headgear.
- In which Via is busted for not having told her family about the school play. Uh-oh.
- Auggie's no dummy. As his mom and sister lie to him during dinner about how he wouldn't be interested in the school play, he reads between the lines: "You think I don't know what's going on?" he yells. "You just don't want your brand-new fancy high school friends to know your brother's a freak!" (6.My Cave.23). This is a super rough moment.
- Auggie storms off to his room and waits under a pile of stuffed animals for his mom to come in and talk to him—but for some reason, he finds himself waiting an unusually long time.
- When someone does come into his room, it isn't his mom. It's Via, and she comes rushing in.
- Auggie's ready to keep on fighting, but Via has come to get him because he has to say goodbye to his dog, Daisy, who has suddenly taken a very bad turn.
- Auggie's mom knows that Daisy won't be coming home from the vet.
- Mom cries as the kids say goodbye to Daisy. She leaves, and Auggie and Olivia cry "a million tears" (6.Goodbye.35).
- Please excuse Shmoop for a moment. We need to grab a tissue because there's something in our eyes…
- Justin comes over for moral support.
- The kids pile all of Daisy's toys on the coffee table while Via describes how Daisy had suddenly begun to whimper and pant, and was in so much pain that she nipped Mom when she tried to lift her.
- Auggie didn't even know she was sick, which makes him cry more.
- Via apologizes for their earlier fight, and tells him how much she loves him—Auggie doesn't think that fight matters so much anymore.
- Their parents come home a couple hours later without the dog. She had a terrible mass in her stomach and was suffering, so Dad held her in his arms while the vet put her peacefully to sleep.
- Auggie sees his dad silently cry.
- Via cries while Mom comforts her.
- And for the first time ever, Auggie just puts himself to bed, lying in his pile of stuffed animals and imagining Daisy licking his face.
- In the middle of the night Auggie wakes up and goes into his parents' room. He snuggles up with his mom, and they talk.
- Auggie wants to know if Via is ashamed of him. Her answer is no.
- He apologizes for calling his mom a liar before, then he wonders about heaven and how people recognize each other.
- He lies awake after his mom falls asleep, thinking about heaven, wondering what Daisy is doing in heaven, wondering what it might be like in heaven to "not have his face matter anymore. Just like it never, ever mattered to Daisy" (6.Heaven.28).
- All is forgiven and forgotten.
- Via gives Auggie a big hug, and tells him she loves him and is proud to be his sister.
- The Pullman family goes to the play.
- As they look through the program, Auggie's parents are amazed by how different Miranda looks in her picture.
- Talking over Auggie's head, his parents discuss how Miranda's dad is getting remarried and that Miranda's mom is not too happy about this.
- Auggie just wants to know what an understudy is already, and asks his dad not to call him "Auggie Doggie" anymore.
- When the Emily character takes the stage, it is Auggie who first notices that it is Via—the understudy—on the stage.
- Via is wonderful as Emily in the play, and she and Justin get a standing ovation.
- Backstage, the two leads are the center of attention, basking in congratulations.
- It turns out that Miranda got sick at the last minute and couldn't do the show. The theater teacher is really proud of Olivia's performance. Everyone is.
- In the hubbub Auggie gets disoriented and loses sight of everyone he knows.
- Lost in a big crowd, he is just beginning to panic when somebody scoops him up from behind.
- It's Miranda.
- Guess who's our new narrator? Yup—Miranda now steps up to the mic as the narrator and namesake for Part 7.
- In the wake of her parents' divorce, Miranda is pretty much abandoned.
- Her dad is totally absent and her mom is emotionally checked out—she ships Miranda off to camp, even though she doesn't want to go.
- Miranda hates camp, and she doesn't know a single person there. But she figures out pretty quickly that her anonymity is a kind of blank canvas upon which she can paint whatever she wants, so she starts slapping some imaginary brushstrokes up there, making up little fictions about her life to tell people.
- One minute she's pretending she has a dog named Daisy, the next, she has a little brother who is deformed. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
- She knows it's weird. But she feels a little entitled to this lie, having known Via and Auggie for so long. After all, she did give him the astronaut helmet. She watched all the Star Wars movies for Auggie's sake too, so of course she's earned it.
- The story of the deformed little brother has tremendous emotional appeal for everyone at camp, and Miranda becomes popular in a way she never has been before.
- The top-of-the-food-chain girls from Bungalow 32 assimilate Miranda, changing her hair and teaching her how to smoke and make tube tops from t-shirts.
- It's no wonder Miranda chooses to reconnect with her more fun-loving friend Ella when she gets home from camp—serious Via would have asked her real questions about real things.
- Miranda describes how she and Via drift apart at school. She's both aware and annoyed that Via isn't actually the one who has changed.
- Miranda can't seem to let go of Via emotionally, and she signs up for theater pretty much just because she sees Via's name on the list.
- As soon as she realizes that the intended production is The Elephant Man, Miranda tells the teacher they can't do that play because her little brother has a birth defect affecting his face.
- The drama teacher reluctantly switches plays. Now they're doing Our Town.
- Miranda auditions for the same role as Via, though she doesn't expect to actually get the part.
What I Miss Most
- Miranda misses everyone in Via's family terribly, saying that she felt safer at their house than she did in her own.
- She calls one day to say hi to Auggie. (Part of her might secretly have wanted to talk to Via too, but we're not talking about that).
- Miranda had no idea that Auggie started going to school, so that rocks her world a little.
- And Auggie has no idea that Miranda and Via aren't friends anymore. Miranda just tells him that things in high school are a little different. She tells him she loves him always, and asks him to tell Via hi and that she misses her.
Extraordinary, but No One There to See
- On opening night, Miranda realizes that not one single person close to her is in the audience.
- She knows she's good—really good—but what's the point if no one you care about comes to see you?
- Then she sees the Pullman family taking their seats in the auditorium, and suddenly Miranda pretends to be sick, telling her teacher there is no way she can go on.
- Olivia is summoned. She has to get into costume and onto the stage so quickly that there isn't even time for Miranda to answer her when she asks, "Why are you doing this, Miranda?" (7. Extraordinary.33).
- Miranda watches the play from the wings and everyone is fantastic. Her only twinge of regret is watching the standing ovation for Justin and Via as they take their curtain call.
- She sees Auggie looking lost in the crowds backstage, and zooms over to see him.
After the Show
- Miranda is thrilled to get a big happy hug from Auggie.
- She's happy to see Via's parents too, who invite Miranda to celebrate with them.
- Miranda tries to dodge.
- Auggie begs.
- The parents insist.
- And then Via shows up, puts her arm around Miranda, and just tells her flat out that she's coming along.
- Miranda says, "for the first time in a very, very long time, I felt absolutely happy" (7.After the Show.18). Yay.
The Fifth-Grade Nature Retreat
- August is running the show again for Part 8 (which is, of course, called "August").
- He is both nervous and excited about sleeping away from home when the fifth grade goes to their nature retreat.
- Most kids have already had sleepovers by the time they are his age, but not August. It's been, you know, complicated.
- Auggie switches out his Star Wars luggage for something more generic, so as not to become typecast as a certain type of kid. Beyond the obvious, that is.
- As they pack up for camp, Auggie runs some what-ifs by his mom, who bolsters his courage.
- She runs some mom-reminders by him, the most important being to take his hearing aids off before swimming, and to make sure they stay dry if it rains. They cost a fortune.
- His mom compliments him on how much he's grown up this year, and not just in height.
- Auggie promises to write home, and tells his mom goodnight.
- He can put himself to bed.
- A pre-dawn vision of Daisy's ghost (or maybe just a dog-shaped shadow, who knows) fills August with a really good, strong feeling.
- He removes the emergency stuffed animal from his duffel at the last minute, and leaves it with a note for his mom that she can sleep with it if she needs to.
- August overhears that Julian declined to attend nature camp because it's too dorky. What a relief.
- The rest of the day flies by with cabin assignments, bunk bed selection, hiking in the woods, rec room fun, and campfire magic.
- Day two of camp is also packed full of awesome camp fun.
- After dinner, the kids head to an outdoor movie night at the fairgrounds.
Be Kind to Nature
- Movie night is teeming with other schools.
- The Broarwood Nature Reserve announcer welcomes everyone and asks that the kids respect nature, clean up after themselves, and stay within the boundaries of the orange cones. The surrounding woods and cornfields are off-limits.
- Moments after having been asked to be courteous during the movie, some kids boo when they hear that the movie is The Sound of Music.
- Looks like we've got some haters in our midst.
The Woods Are Alive
- When Jack has to pee during the movie, he and Auggie find a mile-long line for the bathrooms.
- So of course they head right past the orange cones and into the trees. Ahem.
- They pass Henry, Miles, and Amos heading back from their own little off-limits nature walk.
- The woods are alive with the sounds of everything from bugs to… firecrackers
- Firecrackers are not the only thing being lit out in the woods—the kids smell cigarettes too.
- Jack and Auggie encounter a group of kids also coming out of the woods.
- As the beam of their flashlight illuminates Auggie's face, a girl screams.
- Auggie thinks maybe a bug has flown into her face, but when the boys are laughing and cursing as they shine their flashlights onto him, he gets it.
- Auggie and Jack start to leave, but one of the kids cuts them off so that he can continue to insult and abuse Auggie for the amusement of his friends. These are big kids, probably seventh graders.
- Miles, Henry, and Amos materialize out of nowhere, and tell the mean kid—named Eddie—to leave August alone.
- As Jack and August turn to leave, Eddie yanks August's hoodie so hard that he slams onto his back, whacking his elbow really hard on a rock.
- Amos hurtles into Eddie, there's a mad skirmish, and the next thing we know, everyone is running like wild through the dark.
Voices in the Dark
- When they stop for breath, August realizes that it was Henry who had been pulling him along the whole time on their dash for escape, making sure he didn't get left behind.
- The boys do some post-fight analysis. Admiration and high-fives flow freely. For everyone—including Auggie.
- As they get begin to come down from their adrenaline rush, August realizes that his sweatshirt is totally ripped and his elbow is bleeding.
- But the worst comes when Jack notices that August's hearing aids are gone.
- Everything suddenly hits Auggie all at once, and he can't help but cry.
- Amos calls him brave and gives him a big hug.
The Emperor's Guard
- The boys search fruitlessly for Auggie's hearing aids in the pitch darkness.
- The boys understand that Auggie doesn't want to report the kids that attacked them, but Amos makes sure Auggie knows not to go anywhere alone—they'll be glad to stick with him.
- As they head back into the crowd, the boys flank Auggie like the emperor's guard.
- August can't sleep that night after the terrifying encounter in the woods, which he counts as one of the worst days of his life.
- Even though everything looks the same on the surface, everything is somehow different—August feels a change in everyone's attitudes about him.
- The teachers find out what happened despite the kids' delusions that they could keep the whole thing hush-hush. (Pro tip: Teachers are really good at finding stuff out. It's kind of their job.)
- When Mr. Tushman asks if he can describe the kid, August says he can't remember.
- But he can. He keeps having vivid flashbacks of the faces and the expressions of the kids in the woods.
- Even though the camp director and counselors searched, but no one has been able to find Auggie's hearing aids.
- Broarwood has offered to reimburse Auggie's family for them.
- Auggie steps off the bus and is enfolded in his mom's hug.
- He's not embarrassed one bit—this is exactly what he needs.
- Over a grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milk, Auggie shares some of the details about the fight in the woods—but not everything. He doesn't want to have to tell the whole story all over again when Dad and Via get home.
- Lost and broken things don't matter as much as Auggie's well being, and his mom is so relieved that he is safe.
- She missed him so much while he was away that she slept with the stuffed animal he left home for her both nights.
- Dad and Via get home early and maul Auggie with hugs and kisses.
- And then August notices a big white box, which turns out to contain a furry black puppy.
- The Pullmans name the puppy Bear, and Auggie and Via get to stay home from school to play with the puppy.
- Sure Auggie's been trying to change his image and all, but the fight with alien hostile seventh graders is pretty much making him a legend. Things have changed. Everyone knows what went down, and boys offer friendly fist-bumps in the hall.
- While each telling of the story becomes bigger and more colorful, the elements that do not change are that August got picked on because of his face and Jack defended him, and that Amos, Henry, and Miles did too.
- Julian has missed everything so he's "out of the loop" (8.The Shift.2).
- But he still never misses an opportunity to give Auggie a dirty look.
- It's now the day before the last day of school, and Auggie is in Mr. Tushman's office.
- Edward Johnson, the thug from the other school who bullied August, has been busted with Auggie's hearing aids in his locker. Does August want to press charges?
- The first thing August asks is if the kids would end up in jail. Tushman says not jail, but possibly juvenile court.
- Mr. Tushman suggests that perhaps they'll learn a lesson, but Auggie knows better. He says, "Trust me: that Eddie kid is not learning any lessons" (8.Ducks.12).
- The conversation between August and Mr. Tushman deepens.
- Mr. Tushman wants to know if the year has been okay for August, and congratulates him on the High Honor Roll.
- Mr. Tushman also touches on some of the year's lows. He reveals that he has been aware of Julian's malevolence, and wishes that Jack and Auggie had come to him about the nasty notes.
- They joke about the network of security cameras and secret microphones that allow middle school directors to know all.
- Auggie downplays things as usual, telling Mr. Tushman it wasn't a big deal and that they left some notes too.
- Auggie is surprised and happy to see his animal self-portrait framed on the wall behind Mr. Tushman's desk.
- "Why did you choose to represent yourself as a duck?" (8.Ducks.53) asks Mr. Tushman. Mr. Tushman has imagined a wealth of meaning in the portrait—ugly ducklings and swans and all that—but Auggie says he just thinks he looks like a duck, end of story.
- Mr. Tushman has a good laugh at himself, and shakes Auggie's hand, letting him know it's been great having him at Beecher Prep and he looks forward to another year.
The Last Precept
- Mr. Browne's June precept is "JUST FOLLOW THE DAY AND REACH FOR THE SUN!" (8.The Last Precept.1), a quote from a song by The Polyphonic Spree.
- He asks the kids to send him their personal precepts over the summer (with attribution), and has written his home address on the board.
- You know how the car can sometimes be a weird, magical place where moments of truth happen?
- Auggie and his dad share a biggie while his dad is driving him to graduation.
- Auggie's all dressed up and spiffy, and his dad compliments him on looking great—Auggie says he knows his dad hated his Padawan braid, but his dad says that hate is too strong a word.
- What his dad did hate, he confesses, was the astronaut helmet. He hated it so much, in fact, that he threw it away.
- August can't believe what he is hearing. Furious, he says, "Dad, I loved that helmet! It meant a lot to me! I was bummed beyond belief when it got lost—don't you remember?" (8.The Drop-Off.31).
- Dad reaches out and tilts Auggie's chin toward him, and tells him emphatically how much he loves his son's face, and how sad he was to not be able to see it.
- At this moment, things could still go south. But in classic Auggie form, he suddenly sees the humor in the moment: his mom spent days turning the house upside down looking for a helmet that his dad chucked. So now Auggie totally has something on his dad. Mwahahaha…
- He begins to teasingly extort all manner of payoffs from his dad, and soon they are laughing together again and belting out their favorite song.
- Dad is careful to ask Auggie if he has forgiven him before dropping him off.
- Of course Auggie has. That's how he rolls.
Take Your Seats, Everyone
- The kids head to their staging areas in the auditorium.
- Looking over the program, Summer and Jack resign themselves to a long and boring ceremony.
- She's always been gorgeous, but Jack suddenly sees just how hot Summer is. Pun intended. You're welcome.
A Simple Thing
- Mr. Tushman delivers a beautiful and moving speech, at the heart of which is the theme of kindness.
- Sure everyone's gotten a bit taller and stronger and hopefully smarter, but to Mr. Tushman, the greatest measure of success is "what you've done with your time, how you've chosen to spend your days, and whom you have touched this year" (8.A Simple Thing.10).
- Quoting from J.M. Barrie's A Little White Bird he reads, "Shall we make a new rule of life… always try to be a little kinder than is necessary?" (8.A Simple Thing.13)
- He reads from Christopher Nolan's Under the Eye of the Clock: "It was at moments such as these that Joseph recognized the face of God in human form. It glimmered in their kindness to him, it glowed in their keenness, it hinted in their caring, indeed it caressed in their gaze" (8.A Simple Thing.17).
- The bottom line from Mr. Tushman's point of view is that "If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, wherever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary—the world really would be a better place" (8.A Simple Thing.23).
- As predicted, Charlotte and Ximena sweep the academic awards. Auggie is happy when Amos gets an excellence award for sports, and he's really happy when Summer wins the gold medal for creative writing.
- Tushman launches into his blurb for the final award. It's almost time for lunch though, and Auggie's mind hungrily wanders.
- As Mr. Tushman chokes up though, Auggie realizes he might be saying something interesting, so he tunes back in.
- Tushman is talking about character, about greatness: "Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character" (8.Awards.12).
- Given that greatness isn't exactly quantifiable on a test, Mr. Tushman asks how such a thing might be measured. Quoting Henry Ward Beecher himself, he reads the answer, "Greatness… lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength… He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts" (8.Awards.14). Tushman chokes up again.
- After pausing to pull himself together, Mr. Tushman finishes, "He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own" (8.Awards.16).
- And then he calls August Pullman up to receive the Henry Ward Beecher medal.
- As the crowd goes wild, Auggie is in a happy, dreamlike state. He gets the standing ovation he once fantasized about.
- Standing there, he has two thoughts back-to-back.
- One is that he isn't sure why he is getting the medal.
- The second is that he totally knows why.
- He's getting a medal for being himself. And for getting through fifth grade. "And that's not easy, even if you're not me" (8.Floating.10), he says.
- At the reception Auggie is surrounded by family and friends and well-wishers.
- Everyone's taking pictures like crazy, and for the first time in his life, Auggie simply doesn't care. He just smiles and smiles and smiles.
- No one even cares if their face is near Auggie's—in fact, he feels like everyone wants to be near him.
The Walk Home
- Auggie and his whole extended family and all his friends walk back to the Pullman's for cake and ice cream.
- The kids are happy and laughing, and Auggie is still floating.
- Auggie hangs back a bit to walk with his mom, who is walking alone, smiling her own private thoughts.
- He hugs his mom as she walks, and thanks her for sending him to school
- She hugs him back and kisses the top of his head, thanking him for being the awesome kid he is.
- "She bent down and whispered in my ear. 'You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder'" (8.The Walk Home.12).
- And that's the end of our wonderful story.