Study Guide

Summer Dawson in Wonder

By R.J. Palacio

Summer Dawson

Hot Stuff

We know there's no steamy romance with Summer (this book is about fifth graders, after all), but she's so wonderful that Warm and Sunny just wasn't going to cut it as a header for this section—hence Hot Stuff. Because in this book, Summer is the most reliable friend Auggie has. And no matter how cold other kids may be at times, Summer is always there to warm Auggie right back up with her kindness, maturity, and loyalty. This girl is a true blue friend.

And we're not the only ones who think Summer is the cat's pajamas. Check out what R.J. Palacio writes about her on her website:

What can I say? I love Summer. She's truly a great person. To me, she most represents the kind of person I wish I had been. I wasn't as nice as she was. I wasn't as aware. Maybe it was the death of her father that made her more sensitive to the feelings of others. Or maybe she was just born like that. Some extraordinary people are.

We completely agree.

Summer doesn't have to sit with August in the lunch room—no one's making her and she isn't aware that certain kids have been tapped to befriend him (and ditched on their duties come lunch time). She simply sees "a strange-looking kid in a brand-new school. No one was talking to him. Everyone was staring at him" (3.Weird Kids.8), so she counteracts all of the unpleasantness with kindness. She doesn't think of the consequences for herself. Rather, she thinks of August's feelings:

It's hard enough being the new kid even when you have a normal face. Imagine having his face? (3.Weird Kids.8)

She gets it—being new is always tough and appearances are only skin-deep (though other kids make a super big deal out of them)—and then she does something about it. Not only does Summer have the general decency to consider things from Auggie's perspective, but she has the self-confidence to go against the grain and think and act for herself. Nobody breaks this girl's stride.

When Auggie is devastated over Jack's betrayal, he tries to release Summer from what he assumes is her obligatory friendship with him—but she gives Auggie an earful-and-a-half over that. He questions her loyalty, she busts him, and then she makes him pinky-swear he won't go there again. Her crystal-clear loyalty does wonders (ha ha) for both Auggie's sense of self-worth and his faith in humanity.

Oh, and also…? She actually is hot. Or at least Jack starts to think so… But it really doesn't matter because this girl has so much inner beauty that we think she just might glow in the dark.