Chapters 1-2 Summary
As Part One of Wonder begins, August Pullman explains that he is not normal. He likes the same things other ten-year-olds like, such as video games and ice cream and bike riding. But when he goes to the playground, other kids “run away screaming” at the sight of his face.
August was born with severe medical problems that caused deformity to his facial features and skull. In public, people stare at him, or they work hard not to look at all. They never just treat him like everybody else. He says:
Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.
After ten years of being himself, August has learned to pretend not to notice how other people react to him. His whole family pretends—except his older sister, Via, who sometimes shouts at kids for their reactions to her brother. To August, her protectiveness is a sign that she does not see him as normal any more than strangers do. His parents think he is “extraordinary.” This leaves him in an awkward position: of all the people he knows, only he understands that he is a regular kid on the inside.
At the end of the chapter, August speaks directly to the reader: "I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
Why I Didn’t Go to School
August is about to start fifth grade, and he is “pretty much totally and completely petrified.” Before now, he was always homeschooled because he had to have so many surgeries, and because his medical problems made him sick a lot. His parents thought it was better to keep him home. But now he is stronger, and he does not need another surgery for several years.
Though August has sometimes wished he could go to school in the past, he never particularly wanted to go as himself. He wanted to “be like every other kid” and play games and hang out. As it is, he has several friends he has known since he was little. He and his best friend, Christopher, are pretty close, and Zachary and Alex are pretty good friends as well.
But Christopher recently moved to the suburbs, and Zachary and Alex have hung out with August less since they started going to school. August still sees Christopher once in a while, and they attend...
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
How I Came to Life
August loves hearing about his own birth because his mom always makes it a funny story. Whenever she tells it, August and Via end up laughing uncontrollably.
Nobody expected August to be born looking the way he looks. Via had been born a few years earlier, and her birth was completely normal. Because of this, nobody ran any special tests when August was in the womb. A couple of months before he was born, the doctors realized he had a cleft palate and a couple of other problems they called “small anomalies,” but nobody thought much of it.
The night of August’s birth did not go particularly well. His mom’s regular doctor was not on duty, so a stranger, a very young guy, delivered August instead. One of the nurses kept letting out loud, smelly farts every few seconds. Everyone was grumpy except for August’s dad, who kept cracking jokes to make August’s mom laugh.
When the baby August was finally born, the room fell silent. The young doctor fainted. A nurse rushed out of the room with him before his mom even got to see him. His dad followed the nurse, dropping and breaking his video camera in his rush to find out what was wrong.
The farting nurse stayed behind, and she practically had to wrestle August’s mom to make her stay in bed. Meanwhile, the farting nurse shouted at the young doctor to get up and stop being a total disgrace. During this ordeal, the nurse let out “the biggest, loudest, smelliest fart in the history of farts.” According to August’s mom, it was this fart that woke the doctor up.
When August’s mom tells this story, she acts it all out and uses sound effects for the farting noises. August finds it absolutely hilarious.
In spite of everything, the farting nurse turned out to be a wonderful person. She stayed and comforted August’s mom all night, even when August’s dad came in and told her that their new baby was very sick and might not live. When August survived to the next day, the nurse held August’s mom’s hand when she finally got to see him.
According to August’s mom, her first sight of August’s “tiny mushed-up face” was not traumatic at all. All she noticed was her new baby’s beautiful eyes.
At the end of the chapter, August again addresses the reader directly:
Mom is beautiful,...
(The entire section is 435 words.)
Chapters 4-5 Summary
August first learns that he might attend a real school when he is playing at Christopher's house. He overhears his mom mentioning it to Christopher’s mom and demands to know what she means. She said she thinks August is ready to go to school with other kids.
August disagrees, and his dad backs him up. August climbs into his dad’s lap and whines that he wants to stick with homeschooling. He knows he is acting like a baby, but he cannot help it.
On the drive home, August falls asleep. When he wakes up, he hears his parents arguing quietly. His mom says that it does no good to “keep protecting” August from his real life. He needs to learn to deal with other people instead of avoiding them all the time. But August’s dad says that enrolling August in middle school is like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.”
August does not know what “a lamb to the slaughter” means, and he interrupts the conversation to ask. His parents refuse to define the phrase, and his mom seems mad at his dad for mentioning it at all.
Mom explains that she and Dad went to talk to the principal of a small school near their house, Beecher Prep. They told the principal all about August’s personality and his bravery through all his surgeries. When August asks, she admits they brought pictures of his face, too.
August is disappointed to learn that his dad attended this meeting. It gives him the sense that his parents are more united in their opinions than they seemed at first. August is even more upset when he learns that this discussion started a full year ago, and that the lady who came to the house a few months ago, supposedly to give him an IQ test, was actually administering an entrance test for Beecher Prep.
Again, August demands to know what “a lamb to the slaughter” is. His dad refuses to explain, saying that it was not true anyway. He adds:
Here’s the thing: Mommy and I love you so much we want to protect you any way we can. It’s just sometimes we want to do it in different ways.
Thinking it over, August says he wants to wait another year before starting school, but his mom says that it would be better to start now. Fifth grade is the first year of middle school, so August will not be the only new kid....
(The entire section is 509 words.)
Chapters 6-7 Summary
Paging Mr. Tushman
When he goes with his mom go to meet Mr. Tushman, August is a little giggly at first because he keeps thinking of all the butt jokes he and his family made. He kind of expects the principal to have a big rear end, but Mr. Tushman turns out to be a skinny, normal-looking old guy.
When Mr. Tushman introduces himself, August looks at the ground to hide his face. The principal kneels down so August has to look at him, and they talk about the subjects August likes to study. Because August likes science, Mr. Tushman asks if he would like to sign up for a science elective. August nods, although he does not know what that is.
Next Mr. Tushman says it is time for a tour. This surprises August, who thought he was there only to meet the principal. He is a little annoyed with his mom as the three of them go inside.
Beecher Prep is much smaller than the school Via used to go to. August thinks it has a strange smell, like a hospital.
Nice Mrs. Garcia
It is still summer, so Beecher Prep’s halls are almost empty. August hides behind his mom so the few people in the halls will not see him. He knows this is “kind of babyish,” but he does not feel brave enough to deal with being seen by a lot of strangers today.
In the office, August meets the secretary, Mrs. Garcia, who reacts the way most people do when they see him. Her eyes drop for a second, and her smile gets much brighter. August feels uncomfortable as he shakes her hand, but she is friendly as she tells him he can always check with her if she needs anything.
When August does not say anything, his mom asks if the baby in the picture on her desk is her son. Mrs. Garcia beams and says he is her grandson, and he is not a baby anymore. The two of them chat happily for a minute about babies, but Mrs. Garcia’s smile fades a little when Mom says how beautiful the baby in the picture is.
“We’re all going to take very good care of August,” Mrs. Garcia says. August sees her squeeze his mom’s hand, and at that moment, he realizes that his mom is totally scared too. He decides he likes Mrs. Garcia as long as she is not making the extra-bright smile.
(The entire section is 415 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Jack Will, Julian, and Charlotte
Mr. Tushman’s office is nice, and August likes the stuff on the desk. He notices some art on the walls that was obviously made by students. The pictures are all framed like real artwork.
During the conversation with Mrs. Garcia, she mentioned the students called her "Mrs. G." August asks Mr. Tushman if he gets called "Mr. T." Mr. Tushman laughs and says no, but he adds that the students probably call him some other names behind his back. August laughs, surprised but glad that the man is willing to admit that his own name is embarrassing.
Next, August asks about a picture on the wall behind the desk. He thinks it is a pumpkin, and Mr. Tushman says he thought so too, at first. However, it is really a portrait of him. Mr. Tushman asks August if he really looks like a pumpkin, and August says no. Privately, he thinks otherwise, and Mr. Tushman seems to guess what is going on in August’s head. He does not seem angry, though; he just smiles.
By now, August is feeling more comfortable than he expected—but that changes when he hears the voices of kids outside. He immediately gets nervous because he does not like meeting new kids. It was okay when he was little, when kids did not really understand the mean things they said to him. Now that he is bigger, kids usually know exactly how mean they are being. But it does not stop them.
Mr. Tushman explains that he invited a couple of kids from August’s homeroom to come and show him around the school. He figured it would be a good way for August to get to know a couple of students who might turn out to be friends. Seeing how worried August is, Mr. Tushman leans down and whispers that they are really nice kids. August’s mom adds that everything will be okay.
With that, Mr. Tushman opens his office door and ushers in three kids. They will all be starting middle school with August, but they already know their way around because they used to attend the lower school. They have obviously been told about August’s face because they all stare straight at Mr. Tushman as if afraid to look anywhere else in the room. Mr. Tushman asks them about their summers and thanks them for coming. Then he introduces them to August.
The kids are named Julian, Jack Will, and Charlotte. They each dart one scared glance at August as they are introduced, and then they stare at the floor. August...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
Chapters 9-10 Summary
The Grand Tour
The kid named Julian takes charge of the tour. He takes August to Room 301, the homeroom all of them share. He points out the door but does not take August inside. Next, Julian leads the way to a science classroom. Here again, he stands in the doorway, but Jack Will interrupts and says they should all go inside.
Inside, Julian points out all the stuff in the room, including the desks, the chalkboard, and the erasers. Charlotte protests that everyone knows what an eraser is, but Julian says that maybe August does not know if he has never been to a school before.
Through all this, August is too nervous to say anything, so Jack Will presses him to speak up. August says he knows what an eraser is, but he has never heard of homeroom before. Charlotte launches into a long-winded explanation that is almost as detailed as Julian’s tour of the science room. Eventually Jack interrupts and says August probably gets it by now. August says that he does.
The Performance Space
Next, Charlotte leads the way to the school’s performance space, where she launches into a detailed description of last year’s lower school play, Oliver! She tells him all about how she played the main roll, even though she is a girl, and about how everyone clapped and cheered at the end.
During this discussion, Julian watches August out of the corner of his eye. August sees this often, and he suspects that people think he cannot tell they are staring. When Charlotte tells August about the theater elective, Julian interrupts to say sarcastically that August probably does not want to be in a play. Charlotte says that kids can do backstage stuff in theater if they want, and Julian makes fun of her for this too.
Charlotte calls Julian “obnoxious” and lists off some of the other electives kids can take. When August says he wants to take a science elective, Julian says that science is “supposably” the hardest elective of all. A kid who has never been to school before could not possibly manage a class like that. Charlotte says she thinks August will do fine.
But Julian is not finished. “What’s the deal with your face? I mean, were you in a fire or something?” Charlotte tells him not to be rude. She says that Mr. Tushman already told them August was born looking different. Julian glares...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
Chapters 11-12 Summary
After Julian, Jack Will, and Charlotte bring August back to Mr. Tushman's office, they hang around awkwardly, apparently unsure if they are allowed to leave. Mr. Tushman asks about the tour, and August says it was fine. Julian acts much nicer with the adults around. He even chats with August’s mom about the baby chicks that hatch every year in the science classrooms.
August does not want to stay at the school any longer, so he reminds his mom that they have to pick Via up. They do not really need to do this; the reminder is their pre-arranged signal so August can tell her he wants to leave without embarrassing anyone.
Mr. Tushman seems confused at their abrupt departure, so on his way out, August makes sure to say that the kids were nice. But he keeps his head turned away from the kids.
On the way home, August refuses to talk about the tour. When he and Mom arrive home, he runs to his room and hops onto the bed. He calls the dog, Daisy, and plays with her a little, not looking up when Mom comes in. He does not know why he does not want to tell her what is going on. He feels “very sad and a tiny bit happy at the exact same time,” and he does not know how to explain this.
Mom sits down on the bed and asks if the kids at the school were mean. August shrugs and says they were fine, but she demands to know more. She says that Julian, at least, seemed very nice. At this, August admits that Julian was “the least nice,” but that Jack was a good guy. At first, Mom thinks she has the two boys confused, but then she realizes that Julian is one of those kids who acts sweet in front of adults but not so nice in front of other kids.
August tells her how Julian asked about his face. Mom is horrified, so August rushes to tell her that Julian was not trying to be cruel. He was just asking, and the other two kids told him off for asking so rudely. But Mom is embarrassed and upset. She says that August does not have to go to the school if he would rather stay home.
But at this point, August has already made up his mind that he wants to go. Now his mom seems unsure of herself, but his decision is firm.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapters 13-14 Summary
On the first day of school, August is terrified. He has stuck to his decision, but his parents have continued to argue about it. At some point, his mom and his dad switched sides. Dad says that if August can handle kids like Julian, then he is ready to go to school. But Mom seems less sure now.
Beecher Prep is not far from August’s house, but he has rarely walked past the place. He normally avoids streets where lots of kids hang out. Instead, he spends most of his time on his own block, where people know him and are used to him. He has lived in the same place his whole life, so he feels strange going to an unfamiliar place so close to home.
August’s whole family walks him to school. Via stays beside him, and his parents walk behind. When they arrive and August sees hundreds of kids milling around outside the school, he is careful to keep his face turned “way down” so they will not notice him.
Before August goes inside, Via whispers to him that everybody is nervous on the first day, so he is not alone. She hugs him good-bye, as do his mom and dad. August realizes that Mom is going to cry and embarrass him, so he turns and runs into the school.
Now August is glad he had a tour. He is able to walk directly to his homeroom, Room 301, with his face aimed “way down” so he does not have to look at anyone. In the classroom, he takes a seat near the back, where he figures fewer people will have an opportunity to stare.
Charlotte and Julian both come into the room soon after August. Charlotte waves hello before she chooses a seat in the front. Julian does not acknowledge August at all. August watches as the room fills up, and for a long time nobody chooses a desk next to his. When Jack Will arrives, he says hello and takes an empty seat next to August. The seat on August’s other side remains empty. Meanwhile, two kids squeeze into one desk elsewhere.
The teacher, Ms. Petosa, calls the class to order, and begins talking about homeroom and school rules. When she spots August, she pauses slightly in the middle of her sentence. She does not say anything to him; she just takes attendance and hands out locker assignments and locks. In the process, she rearranges the room to make a kid take the empty seat next to August. The kid obeys, but he puts his backpack on the desk and hides behind it....
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapters 15-16 Summary
Around the Room
After everyone figures out how to open his or her lock, Ms. Petosa explains that she used to work for Wall Street but quit her job because it was her lifelong dream to be a teacher. Julian raises his hand to say that is a cool thing to do, and she thanks him. She asks everyone to say a little about themselves and invites the rest of the class to ask questions. Because Julian has already spoken, she asks him to go first.
Julian tells the class about a new computer game and Ping-Pong table he got over the summer. Charlotte goes next, and she says she has two sisters and a new puppy. Ms. Petosa thanks her and continues working her way around the room toward August.
Lamb to the Slaughter
August looked up the phrase “lamb to the slaughter” last night and learned it describes someone who walks unknowingly into an awful situation. This phrase is on his mind when it is his turn to speak to the class about himself. He says he has a sister named Via and a dog named Daisy, and he leaves it at that.
When Ms. Petosa asks if anyone has questions, Julian raises his hand and asks about the little braid at the back of August’s hair. “Is that like a Padawan thing?” he asks. August says it is, but Ms. Petosa does not know what that means. Julian explains that it is a Star Wars thing. In the movies, kids who are training to be Jedi knights wear braids like that.
Eager to get the kids talking, Ms. Petosa asks if August likes Star Wars. August mumbles a yes, eager to stop being the center of attention, but Julian asks about August’s favorite character. August, beginning to think that Julian might be okay after all, names Jango Fett. Julian asks mildly if August likes Darth Sidious.
At this, Ms. Petosa tells the boys to talk about Star Wars after class, and she moves on to Jack Will. August is too busy thinking about Darth Sidious to listen to Jack’s answer. In Star Wars Episode III, Darth Sidious gets hit by lightning, and his face melts into an ugly, deformed blob. Nobody else seems to have understood the reference, but August is pretty sure it was intentional. Glancing up, he sees Julian watching him. Julian’s expression leaves little room for doubt: he was trying to get under August’s skin.
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
When the bell rings, August checks his class schedule and sees that he is supposed to go to English in Room 321. He walks there with his head down, not stopping to find out if anyone he knows is going there, too. He arrives in a classroom where a bearded man is writing on the chalkboard. Once there, August again chooses a seat in the back of the room.
English starts out much like homeroom. August avoids making eye contact with anyone, and nobody except Jack sits near him. This interests August because Jack is obviously funny and well liked. If he wanted, he could probably sit with almost anyone.
When the bell rings again, the teacher introduces himself as Mr. Browne and tells everyone the plan for the semester. Again, August notices the exact moment when the teacher spots him among the class.
Mr. Browne writes a word on the chalkboard: precept. Nobody knows what this means, so he explains that it is a rule about something important. He asks the class to brainstorm things that are really important, and he writes down everything they suggest. They come up with ideas like school, family, the environment, and sharks.
Mr. Browne says all of these are good ideas, but he adds that one thing is most important of all. He writes this down on the board: “WHO WE ARE!” He says that they all need to spend time asking themselves what kinds of people they are. This is, in fact, the subject of Beecher Prep’s motto, “Know Thyself.”
When Jack interrupts to say he thought they were in this class to learn English, everyone laughs. Not missing a beat, Mr. Browne says, “Oh, yeah, and that, too!” With that, August decides he likes the man.
Continuing his lesson, Mr. Browne writes a precept down on the board: “WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING RIGHT AND BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
Mr. Browne says that every month in English this year, he will share a new precept with the class. Every month, the class will discuss the idea, and all the kids will write about what the precept means to them. Then, over the summer, they can send Mr. Browne a postcard with a precept of their own. A girl asks incredulously if kids actually do that part, and Mr. Browne assures her they do. In fact, he says, they sometimes send him new precepts many years after they leave school.
As August writes...
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapters 18-19 Summary
August is surprised at how difficult lunch is. Via told him it might be the hardest part of his middle school day, but he was not prepared to see so many kids at once. He did not expect them all to be saving seats for their friends either.
Eventually August chooses a seat at a table by himself. He looks around for Jack Will but does not see him. He sees Julian and a few other boys he vaguely knows, but he does not try to sit with them.
The lunchroom teacher explains the rules of the cafeteria and then chooses tables one by one so kids can go up and get their lunches. August has brought his lunch from home, so he gets it out and unwraps it slowly. He feels the other kids staring, and he hears some girls whispering. He does not acknowledge them.
August’s deformities make him a messy eater. His cleft palate has been repaired with surgery, but he still has a hole in the roof of his mouth. He had another surgery to make his jaws function well enough to eat solid food, but he chews with the front of his mouth instead of the back. Crumbs and bits of food are always spraying out. He thinks it makes him look “like some prehistoric swamp thing.”
The Summer Table
As August eats, a brown-haired girl appears beside him with a tray and asks if she can sit down. She introduces herself as Summer. When she learns August’s name, she gets excited because August is a summer month. She suggests that the two of them make a rule that only people with summer names can sit at their table.
Summer suggests Julian and Julia because their names are based on the word July. August does not say anything, but he doubts he would want Julian to sit with him. He suggests adding a boy named Reid because that name sounds like “a reed of grass,” and he suggests Jack Will by making his name into a sentence: “Jack will go to the beach.”
By the end of lunch, Summer and August have a long list of names of people they would allow at their table. Together, they agree that even winter-named people would be allowed, as long as they were nice. Neither of them mentions the fact that nobody else seems likely to join them—not as long as August is sitting there.
(The entire section is 411 words.)
Chapters 20-21 Summary
One to Ten
August’s mom always asks him to rate pain on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst. This started one time when he had jaw surgery and could not talk, but now she uses it any time she thinks he might be in pain. It is the first thing she asks when he walks out of school: “One to ten?”
After thinking it over, August rates his day a five. Mom seems fairly happy about this, and she suggests he was expecting worse. She tries to take his backpack for him, but he nudges past her and heads for home. He is eager to get away from the kids who are staring and pointing at him on his way out, but he does stop to say good-bye to Summer.
On the way home, Mom asks about Summer and about the kids he met on his tour. August dodges as many questions as he can. He says everyone was nice, and he decides against explaining Julian’s Darth Sidious comment. Mom’s questions annoy August, but he does not know why.
But Mom really wants to know how his day went, so she presses him to talk more about Summer. He says he sat with her at lunch. When his mom says Summer is pretty, August says they are “kind of like Beauty and the Beast.” After that, he runs home, unable to look his mother in the eye.
That evening, August cuts off his little braid. His dad, who always hated the braid, is really happy. But Via is angry. August and his friend Christopher grew those braids together, and it bothers her that August cut his off without telling Christopher.
At bedtime, August’s dad tucks him in and asks if the day was actually okay. August says it was actually pretty good, but he asks if he could stop going to school if he wanted to. His dad says yes, but August would have to explain why he wanted to stop.
August’s dad also asks if August is mad at Mom. Although August does not say yes, he says he thinks Mom is “more to blame” than Dad for the decision to send him to school. At this, Mom comes in, looking unsure of herself. She asks Dad to go check on Via, who seems upset.
When Mom sits down on the bed, August is scared she wants to have a big talk. He is relieved when she gets out The Hobbit and starts reading where they left off. While listening, he starts to cry without knowing why. She puts down the book and hugs him.
“Why am I so ugly,...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
Chapters 22-23 Summary
Wake Me Up When September Ends
The whole month of September is hard for August. He is not used to getting up early, doing homework, or taking tests. The structure of his day is new to him, and he finds it strange that he cannot stop to play when he feels like it.
The worst part of school is the staring, or rather, the way kids try not to stare when they clearly want to. In August’s classes, most kids walk strange routes around the room to avoid coming near his desk. He wonders if they think they can catch a disease from his face.
The hallways are awful, too. Every time August comes face to face with a kid who does not expect him, the kid gasps. For the first few weeks, it happens several times every day. August tries to think of it as math:
Five hundred kids in a school: eventually every one of them was going to see my face at some point.
August bears this and waits for it to pass. When he catches kids nudging each other and whispering, he tries not to imagine what they are saying. He reminds himself that these kids are just being normal. He sometimes feels like saying this to them:
Like, it’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a Wookiee started going to school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit!
Eventually, most of the gasping and whispering does pass. After a week, the kids in August’s classes are used to him. After two weeks, the kids he sees once in a while in the cafeteria and PE and the library stop staring, too. After a month, the kids in the other grades, the ones August sees only in the halls, get over seeing him too. A lot of these older kids have nose rings or crazy hair, but they do not look as weird as August.
August sits with Jack Will in almost all his classes. Even when the teachers start assigning seats, they put him next to Jack. They walk together in the halls most of the time, too. Usually Jack says nothing when other kids react to August’s face.
But one time an eighth grader accidentally knocks August down on the stairs. When the bigger boy notices August’s face, he says, “Whoa!” in a funny way that makes August and Jack laugh.
In the next class, which is history, Jack asks if August ever wants to...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
Chapters 24-25 Summary
Mr. Browne’s October Precept
In October, Mr. Browne writes a new precept on the chalkboard: “YOUR DEEDS ARE YOUR MONUMENTS.” He has chosen this quote because it comes from an Egyptian tomb, and he knows the class is studying Ancient Egypt in history. When asked to write a paragraph about the precept, August writes that it means that people should be known for what they do, not what they say or how they look.
August’s birthday is October 10, which he likes because he can write it as 10/10. He wishes he had been born at 10:10 a.m., but he was not that lucky.
Most years, August has a small birthday party at home, but this year he asks for a big bowling party with his whole homeroom, and Summer as well. His mom is surprised but pleased that he wants to have a birthday party in a public place. Still, she is a little unsure about inviting so many people. She is especially concerned about asking Julian because of the question he asked last summer about August’s face. August is annoyed. “Geez, Mom, you should forget about that already,” he says.
As the big day approaches, August asks his mom how many of the kids are going to come to the party. Only Jack Will, Summer, Reid, and two boys named Max have said they will be there. A couple of others have said they will try to come if they are able.
August is disappointed. He asks why so many people said no, and his mom said they all had different conflicts. She insists that it is because it is a busy time of year and the invitations went out fairly late, but August is suspicious there are other reasons. He asks why Julian is not coming, and his mom admits that Julian’s mom did not answer the invitation at all. “I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” August’s mom says. When August asks what this means, she tells him not to worry about it.
In the end, the party is smaller than August first hoped, but it is still a lot of fun. In addition to the five kids from school, Christopher comes from the suburbs. A bunch of August’s adult relatives come too, and they bowl in the lane next to the kids. This makes August feel like a whole crowd of people has showed up just to celebrate his birthday.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapters 26-28 Summary
At lunch the day after August’s birthday, Summer asks what he is going to be for Halloween. He says Boba Fett, one of his favorite characters from Star Wars. She tells him he is allowed to wear a costume to school. August, who loves Halloween, gets excited.
Summer explains that kids are not allowed to wear anything offensive or carry fake guns—which is bad news for August because Boba Fett has a blaster. But Summer insists that middle school rules are better than lower school rules. Last year, everybody had to dress up as characters from books.
August asks what Summer wants to be, and she says that her favorite idea is “too dorky.” She makes him promise not to laugh, and then she reveals that she wants to be a unicorn. This does make him laugh a little, but he encourages her to do it if it is what she wants.
But Summer is concerned that the other girls will laugh at her silly costume. A lot of kids in fifth grade are saying they are too old to dress up at all. Eventually she decides to dress up as a goth girl at school but to make a unicorn mask for the Halloween Parade in the evening.
When August approves of this plan, Summer thanks him and says she likes how open he is. “I feel like I can tell you anything,” she says.
August hates getting his picture taken, and he often refuses to do it. He is surprised but pleased when his mom says he does not have to do a school picture. However, he does have to be a part of the class picture. The sight of August seems to put the photographer in a bad mood, especially because August is so short he has to be right in front. August chooses not to smile since nobody can read his expressions anyway.
The Cheese Touch
At first, he thinks it is normal that none of the kids at school touch him. After all, fifth graders are not especially touchy-feely with each other.
But August gets suspicious when a girl named Ximena almost has a panic attack when she gets paired with August during a dance unit in gym. Ximena rushes to the bathroom, and the teacher ends up letting the kids dance by themselves.
Then one day in science during an experiment, August accidentally touches the hand of a boy named Tristan. Though Tristan has always been “okay-nice” to August, he freaks out and rushes to the...
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
To August, Halloween is the best day of the year. He likes it even better than Christmas, mainly because on Halloween, he gets to wear a mask. “Nobody takes a second look,” he says. “Nobody notices me. Nobody knows me.” Sometimes he wishes people wore masks all the time. That way, people could get to know each other a little before revealing their appearance.
When August was five or six, he had an astronaut helmet that he wore constantly. He wore it even in summer when it made him hot and sweaty. But when he was seven, he had eye surgery and had to stop wearing the mask for a while. Somehow it got lost, and his mom could not find it anywhere. Eventually he got used to life without it.
August has pictures of himself on every Halloween, and he remembers the costumes he wore every year. For the last few years, he has always been a character from Star Wars. He has been Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Last year, he was Bleeding Scream.
This year, August wants to be Boba Fett, but not the younger version of the character from the newer Star Wars movies. He wants to be the older version from The Empire Strikes Back. His mom could not find a costume for sale, so she bought a Jango Fett costume and painted it the right color. August loves how it looks and cannot wait to wear it.
In homeroom one day, August and the other kids discuss their costumes. Julian is going as Jango Fett, the father of Boba Fett. August thinks Julian is annoyed when he learns about this connection.
On Halloween morning, Via gets into “this big crying meltdown,” which is unusual for her. Her dad, who normally takes her to school, gets impatient because he is late for work. This is unusual for him, too. Eventually August’s mom decides to take care of Via, and she asks August’s dad to take him to school. August does not have his costume on yet, and his dad tells him to hurry.
August rushes to his room, but the Boba Fett costume is a lot of work to put on, and he needs help tightening all the belts. He grabs his Bleeding Scream costume from last year, which is easier to handle, and he puts it on instead. Outside, his dad comments on the sudden change but says the Bleeding Scream costume is really cool. With that, the two of them set out for the school.
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapters 30-31 Summary
The Bleeding Scream
Arriving at school in costume is, for August, “absolutely awesome.” He does not have to keep his head down. He actually wants to be seen. In the halls, he passes a kid wearing the exact same Bleeding Scream costume he is wearing. The kid high-fives August in passing. August is thrilled, although in the back of his mind, he guesses the kid would not have done that if he had known who was under the mask.
August thinks today is “going to go down as one of the most awesome days in the history of [his] life” until he arrives in homeroom. There he finds Darth Sidious and knows immediately it is Julian beneath the mask. Two mummies are hanging out with Darth Sidious. They all watch the door, clearly waiting for August.
But Julian and his friends are looking for Boba Fett, not Bleeding Scream. August walks right past them and, without knowing why, sits down in a seat that is not his own. He listens as Julian and the others discuss how much the melted face of Darth Sidious looks like August.
As August continues to listen, one of the mummies says that if he looked like August, he would commit suicide. The others ask the mummy why he spends so much time with August, and the mummy says the principal asked him to. “He always follows me around. What am I supposed to do?” he says.
August knows the voice of this mummy: it belongs to Jack Will. He always thought Jack was his friend. Without saying a word, August gets up and leaves. He starts to cry silently under his mask.
After the bell rings, August retreats to a bathroom and thinks about the names kids call him sometimes behind his back: “Rat boy. Freak. Monster. Freddy Krueger. E.T. Gross-out. Lizard face. Mutant.” He tells himself he always knew how mean kids could be—but this time is different.
For a long time, August cries alone in the bathroom. Then he goes to the nurse’s office and says he is sick. The nurse calls his mother, who soon arrives to pick him up. She offers to get a taxi, but he says he can walk. She is upset that he is missing Halloween, especially when he says he is too sick to go trick-or-treating.
August hangs out in his room and avoids school the following day. All weekend, he thinks about what Jack said. As Part One ends, August decides he never wants to go to school again.
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapters 32-33 Summary
A Tour of the Galaxy
Part Two of Wonder is told in the voice of Olivia, August’s older sister. Olivia explains the “galaxy” of her life like this: “August is the Sun. Me and Mom and Dad are planets orbiting the Sun.” Only the dog, Daisy, does not orbit around August—and that is only because Daisy cannot tell how different August is.
Olivia is used to her life, and she claims she does not mind that August is always the center of attention. She has always understood that August’s needs were greater than her own. When she was little, she knew she had to choose quiet games when he took naps. Later she understood that her parents often had to miss her soccer games because they were taking August to therapy or surgery.
Olivia’s parents used to call her “the most understanding little girl in the world.” She does not think she deserves this label. All she knows is that it would be useless to make a big deal of her own needs. She has seen her brother come home from surgery wrapped up in bandages, barely alive. Next to suffering like that, she would have felt ridiculous complaining about her mom missing a school play.
From early childhood, Olivia learned to figure things out for herself. She put her own toys together, organized rides to friends’ birthday parties, and kept track of her homework assignments without help.
Now, Olivia is almost totally independent. If she has trouble in school, she does extra work to figure it out by herself. If her parents ask how things are going, she says they are good even when they are not. This is because her brother needs her parents more than she does:
My worst day, worst fall, worst headache, worst bruise, worst cramp, worst mean thing anyone could say has always been nothing compared to what August has gone through. This isn’t me being noble, by the way: it’s just the way I know it is.
But this year, with August at school, the “galaxy” of Olivia’s life feels different.
Olivia has seen pictures of her early childhood, and it is obvious she was the focus of the attention. But she does not remember this.
She does not remember the day August came home from the hospital as a baby either. She is told that she stared at him for a long time, and then she said, “It doesn’t look like...
(The entire section is 465 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
When Olivia was little, she was so used to August that she did not understand how other people could find his face shocking or horrifying. She knew he looked different, but people’s reactions seemed completely overblown. They made her furious, and she sometimes shouted at people—even grown-ups—who stared at her brother in public.
At the age of eleven or so, Olivia spent four weeks with her grandmother, whom she called Grans, while August recovered from a big jaw surgery. It was Olivia’s first long trip away from home, and she loved the way she and Grans could walk around without attracting attention. She felt free because August was not there.
Grans was an awesome grandmother, the kind of woman who would do anything with her grandchildren. She and Olivia had a wonderful time together, and one night Olivia confessed that it was the most fun she had had in her life.
When Olivia arrived home, everything felt different. August rushed to welcome her:
For a fraction of a moment [she] saw him not the way [she’d] always seen him, but the way other people see him.
As her brother hugged and kissed her, she felt horrified by his twisted features and by the trickle of drool leaking out his mouth. The moment soon passed, but it ushered Olivia into a new phase of life, one in which she partially understood strangers' reactions to August.
Olivia has never told anyone about this moment. She would have told Grans, but it was not something she could explain on the phone. And soon afterward, Grans died of a heart attack. Olivia went with her mother to the hospital to visit, but by the time they arrived, Grans had already passed away.
Olivia remembers how Mom crumpled on the floor when she got the news of her mother’s death. It was a shocking moment because Mom is such a strong person. But Grans was her mother, and had been there with her through all the struggles with August. Olivia knows that her mom’s pain was bigger than her own.
But Olivia’s pain was enormous too. She often remembers a secret Grans told her on the last day of that long visit: Grans said she loved Olivia the most out of anyone in the world. Naturally, Olivia asked immediately about August. Grans said she loved him very much, but August had “many angels” who watched over him. She added:
(The entire section is 463 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
August Through the Peephole
Olivia describes her brother’s appearance in detail: his eyes are too low, and they are oddly slanted. They sit crooked on his face, and they bulge out from too-small eye sockets. His top eyelids hang halfway over the eyes even when he is wide awake, and his bottom eyelids droop to reveal the red skin below. He has no eyebrows and no eyelashes. His nose is a huge blob. His face is pinched in at the sides as if it has been crushed. He has no cheekbones, so his skin sags. He looks “melted, like the drippings on the side of a candle.” Surgical scars surround his mouth. He has an overbite, and his teeth stick straight out.
When August was little, he looked even worse than he does now. He had no chin, and his tongue hung out all the time. After jaw surgery, he learned to keep his tongue in his mouth and to eat on his own. Before that he had to use a feeding tube, and he could not talk. All his improvements are “considered miracles.” When he was a baby, nobody expected him to survive so long.
Another miracle is that August is able to hear. His ears are tiny “cauliflower-shaped” blobs, and the doctors expected him to be deaf. But he can hear okay, at least for now. August dreads the day when he will have to start wearing hearing aids, although Olivia thinks this will be “the least of his problems.”
Olivia wonders how much August understands about the way others see him. He is good at pretending it does not bother him. Maybe he barely notices. He certainly never mentions it.
Olivia also wonders how August sees himself. Maybe he sees the beautiful, beloved child their parents see. Maybe he has a dream self that lurks beneath his misshapen face. Olivia sometimes saw a younger version of Grans shine out from underneath all the wrinkles. Does August have an imaginary, more perfect self underneath?
But Olivia cannot tell how August feels, not anymore. Before his surgeries, she could read his face. Now he looks much better, but it is hard for her to keep up with the changes that every surgery brings. Her parents can read him, but she always seems to lag behind. And she does not always feel like putting out the effort: “Why can’t he say what he’s feeling like everybody else?”
It is starting to bother Olivia, the way she and her family constantly accommodate August’s every need and mood. Everyone treats him...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapters 36-37 Summary
Olivia loved middle school because when she went there, she was her own person, separate from her family. Elementary school was like an extension of her home life. Everyone called her Via, the nickname her family still uses for her. Also, August was always around. He came to school every time his parents came. There were not many people who could babysit for a boy who had as many needs as he did.
In middle school, there was more separation. A lot of people knew about August, but it was “maybe the second or third thing” they found out when they met her. Olivia knows kids whispered about it when she was not in the room, telling each other that she had a brother who was deformed. She did not mind that too much because August is a big part of her life, but she never liked being defined by her connection to him. Plus she hated—and still hates—the word deformed.
Now that Olivia is in high school, she has more separation from August than she has ever had before. Nobody except her friends Miranda and Ella know about him, and they keep their knowledge to themselves. Olivia has known Miranda and Ella since elementary school, and they have always been good friends. When she asked them to call her Olivia instead of Via, they understood.
Miranda and Ella have known August forever. In elementary school, they used to come over and play dress-up with him. In middle school, they all hung out together constantly. When they all got into Faulkner High together—the only three kids from their middle school who made the cut—they called each other screaming with excitement.
Olivia assumed the three of them would stay best friends forever. But now that high school has started, everything is different.
Miranda used to be the nicest to August of all Olivia’s friends, nicer even than Olivia herself sometimes. Miranda always made a point to talk to August and include him. She even gave him the astronaut helmet he used to wear all the time when he was little.
Every year, Miranda goes to summer camp. Normally she calls Olivia first thing when she comes home, but this year is different. Miranda does not call when she gets home, and she evades Olivia’s invitations to hang out.
Then, when Miranda arrives for the first day of high school, her hair is dyed bright pink, and she is wearing a tube...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
Chapters 38-40 Summary
At the end of Olivia’s first day of school, Miranda finds her and says coolly, “I hear we’re driving you home today.” Seeing Miranda’s lack of enthusiasm, Olivia lies and says her mom just texted to offer a ride. Olivia hides in the bathroom until the coast is clear and then jogs to the subway station to take public transportation home.
Olivia is not allowed to take the subway by herself, and the trip takes far longer than a ride with Miranda would have taken. When she gets home, Olivia tells her mom that she stopped for pizza with Miranda’s family. Olivia does not know why she is lying like this, but the lie is already out of her mouth.
Olivia asks about August’s first day of school. When Mom seems uncertain, Olivia snaps at her impatiently. Olivia goes to his room to ask him herself, but he is absorbed in video games. She grabs the controller out of his hands and asks how school was. “Fine,” he says.
Olivia presses August about whether anyone was mean. “Why would people be mean?” he asks. Olivia hears the sarcasm in his voice, and it shocks her. She never knew he could act like that.
The Padawan Bites the Dust
Later that evening, August cuts off his Padawan braid. Olivia gets angry and shouts at him for abandoning his look without telling Christopher first. She is not sure why this matters so much to her, but it does.
That night, Olivia is reading in her bedroom when her mom pokes her head in. Seeing how tired Mom looks, Olivia realizes that she and August have made the day hard on their parents. But Olivia does not feel ready to talk about Miranda. She asks her mom to come back a little later, and her mom promises to do so.
But it is Dad who comes instead. He says Mom is with August, who has finally admitted he had a bad day. Olivia tells Dad that Miranda and Ella are acting different, and he seems to sympathize. He makes her laugh and lets her bring Daisy, the dog, to sleep in her room.
An Apparition at the Door
Olivia remembers one time, in the middle of the night, when she got up for a drink of water and found her mom at August’s bedroom door. Mom just stood there, hand on the doorknob, not going in or out. Maybe she was listening to August breathe. Olivia reflects:
I wonder how many nights she’s stood...
(The entire section is 446 words.)
Chapters 41-43 Summary
The next morning, Olivia asks her mom to pick her up after school. Her mom suggests catching a ride with Miranda again, and Olivia says she does not want to do so. She says she will take the subway if her mom cannot come. Her mom protests that she does not want Olivia to take the subway alone yet.
Dad takes Olivia’s side, saying that she is old enough to ride on the subway alone. Clearly surprised by this, Mom asks what is going on. Olivia cannot resist saying that her mom would already know if she had come back to Olivia’s room last night as promised.
Remembering her promise, Mom apologizes. Olivia says it is fine. At first she is just being nice, but when she realizes how sorry Mom is, Olivia decides it really is okay. Mom offers to pick her up after school, but she cannot get there until fairly late.
Olivia does not like this arrangement. She says she can take the subway, and her dad supports her. His argument is that Olivia is reading War and Peace and is therefore definitely old enough to ride the subway alone. Mom is not convinced, but she loses the argument.
Olivia’s dad comes from a Jewish family that fled Russia and Poland during the holocaust. Her mom comes from a Brazilian family that mostly still lives in Brazil. The couple met at Brown University, fell in love, and moved to upper Manhattan after Olivia was born.
Olivia has studied all the old family photographs, and nobody looks like August. There is no sign of his features anywhere. But after his birth, their parents saw a genetic counselor, who explained that August has a previously undiscovered genetic disease caused by a rare mutant gene. August inherited two copies of that gene—because even though Olivia’s parents have such different backgrounds, they both carry it. Olivia has one copy of the gene herself.
The Punnett Square
If Olivia ever has a child, there is a 50% chance he or she will inherit the mutant gene. If she marries someone who carries the gene, her children will have a 50% chance of carrying the gene but looking normal, a 25% chance of not carrying the gene at all, and a 25% chance of looking like August. Olivia knows these odds by heart, and she knows the chances for August’s future children too.
But the mutant gene is only part of the story. The rest is not about genetics exactly. It is...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapters 44-45 Summary
Out With the Old
Eventually, Miranda and Ella befriend a crowd of popular kids, leaving Olivia behind. They do not fight about this. They spend a week sitting through “painful lunches” with Olivia until Olivia decides to stop showing up in the cafeteria. Miranda and Ella do not ask any questions.
After a while, Olivia does not even mind the change. She spends several lunches in the library reading War and Peace, and she is amazed at how much it is like a soap opera. It is all about people fighting and dying for love, and Olivia thinks it is great. She wants to marry a man who loves her like that someday.
Eventually Olivia makes friends with a girl named Eleanor she knows vaguely from elementary school. Olivia remembers Eleanor as “a bit of a crybaby back then—but nice.” These days, Eleanor is pretty funny, good at coming up with original one-liners. She admits she used to think of Olivia as overly serious. Eleanor also confesses that she always found Miranda and Ella stuck-up.
Through Eleanor, Olivia joins the clique of smart kids. She is not used to hanging out with such a big group or with so many boys. Soon she notices a skinny bespectacled boy, Justin, who always carries a violin. Olivia develops a crush immediately.
When Miranda and Ella see Olivia in the halls, they say hi, but that is all. Sometimes Miranda asks Olivia to say hi to August too, but Olivia does not do it. She reflects that August is “in his own world these days.”
Olivia always gets sad around Halloween because Grans died on October 30. This year, the sadness creeps in as Olivia watches her mom struggle to get her hands on a Boba Fett costume. She ends up buying a Jango Fett costume and painting it, spending about two weeks making it perfect. Olivia addresses the reader about this directly:
And no, I won’t mention the fact that Mom has never made any of my costumes, because it really has no bearing on anything at all.
On Halloween morning, Olivia finds herself crying about Grans. Mom gives her permission to stay home from school, and the two of them spend the morning crying and talking together. It is shaping up to be a great day with just the two of them, and Olivia begins to think she is ready to talk more about Miranda and Ella.
Then the phone rings, and it is the nurse at August’s school saying August is...
(The entire section is 483 words.)
Chapters 46-47 Summary
Trick or Treat
Olivia is shocked when August says he is too sick to go trick-or-treating. He loves Halloween more than anything, and she thinks she knows why: in a mask, August is just like all the other kids.
So that evening, Olivia visits August in his room and asks if he feels good enough to go to the Halloween Parade. He says no, and she is surprised. August has been through more awful medical stuff than most people do “in ten lifetimes.” She does not believe that nausea could stop him from having fun.
Sitting down, Olivia demands that August tell her what is really happening. After a bit of protest, he tells a story about hearing some kids—including his friend Jack Will—say awful things about him. Olivia comforts August and tells him that kids act weird sometimes. Just because Jack said mean things does not mean he really meant them.
August is not so sure. He thinks Jack is pretending to be friends with a “freak” because the principal offered him some kind of deal for good grades. Olivia tells him this is nonsense, but she can see that August needs to let out his feelings.
She lets him cry and punch his pillow for a while, and then she presses him to put on his costume and go out to the Halloween Parade. He protests that his mom will make him go to school tomorrow if she thinks he is better, and Olivia says this will not happen. Eventually he gets up and dresses up as Boba Fett.
Time to Think
August says he needs to stay home the next day, which is a Friday, and his parents let him. By Sunday, August has decided he is never going back to school. Olivia argues with him, saying he should not let some stupid kids stop him from doing what he wants. She says he needs to get over it:
Everyone hates school sometimes. I hate school sometimes. I hate my friends sometimes. That’s just life, Auggie. You want to be treated normally, right? This is normal!
August listens to this coolly and then asks if people at Olivia’s school refuse to touch her. This shocks her, and he thinks he has won. But she tells him she is not trying to compete for who has the worst days. He needs to decide: act like a baby forever, or “suck it up and go.”
August tells Olivia that she should not tell him not to let kids get to him. After all, Miranda got to her. Olivia is surprised that August knows about this, and August explains...
(The entire section is 542 words.)
Chapters 48-49 Summary
Part Three of Wonder is told in the voice of Summer, who marvels at how often kids ask her why she hangs out with “the freak.” She tells people that August is nice, and she asks them not to call him names. The other kids call Summer “a saint” and demand to know if the principal asked her to be friends with August. Summer simply insists that she likes him. Privately, she is surprised that this is even a big deal. “It’s weird how weird kids can be,” she thinks.
Summer admits that on the first day of school, she sat with August because she felt sorry for him. Kids were staring, and he was alone. The girls at her table were whispering about him, calling him the nickname Julian had given him: “Zombie Kid.” Summer could see that August knew this was happening, and she hated feeling like she was a part of it. She imagined how hard it would be to be a new kid who looked like him.
So Summer decided to do something about it. To her, it was not a big deal that she sat down at his table. She reflects: “He’s just a kid. The weirdest-looking kid I’ve ever seen, yes. But just a kid.”
Summer concedes that it is hard to get used to August’s face. Now that she has been sitting with him at lunch for two weeks, she can say from firsthand experience that “he’s not the neatest eater in the world.” But she likes him anyway. She no longer sits with him because she feels sorry for him. She sits with him because he is a good guy.
It bugs Summer how some kids, especially girls, act like they are too grown-up to do kid stuff now that they are in middle school. All they want to do is talk about boys and relationships. August still likes to play. His favorite recess game is Four Square, which works for Summer because she likes this game too.
One day during Four Square, Summer asks a girl named Maya to join the game. Maya refuses because it means touching a ball August has touched. She explains that the kids are all saying that August has the Plague. Anyone who touches August has to wash his or her hands immediately or catch the Plague. Summer thinks this is stupid, and Maya agrees. But she refuses to play with August anyway just in case.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapter 50 Summary
The Halloween Party
When Summer gets invited to Savanna’s Halloween party, she is extremely excited. Savanna is the center of the popular crowd. Every girl wants to be friends with her, and every boy wants to go out with her. Savanna has already had two boyfriends this year.
When Summer accepts the invitation, Savanna informs her that most kids are not invited. Savanna is nice about this but says not to talk about the party with too many people. She also warns Summer not to wear a costume. Apparently the popular kids are above costumes, even cool ones like Summer’s Goth girl outfit.
Summer looks forward to the party anyway. Her only regret is that she cannot wear the unicorn mask she made herself for the Halloween Parade. She decides that this is okay. The party will be a better experience anyway.
When Summer arrives at the party, Savanna looks surprised. “Where’s your boyfriend, Summer?” she asks. Summer is confused because she has never had a boyfriend. When Savanna jokes that he does not have to wear a mask at Halloween, Summer realizes that Savanna means August. Summer explains that he is not her boyfriend, and Savanna laughs and says she was kidding.
Savanna takes Summer to the basement, where a bunch of kids from school are hanging out. There are both boys and girls, and Summer does not see Savanna’s parents anywhere. Except for Summer, the girls are all a part of Savanna’s usual group of friends. The boys are all part of Julian’s group. Privately, Summer reflects that these kids are actually “one big supergroup of popular kids” because they are all dating each other these days. She is surprised to learn that a couple more pairs of boys and girls have started going out. Some of the girls with boyfriends are totally flat, as Summer is herself.
Within minutes, Savanna and her boyfriend, Henry, corner Summer and announce that she needs to stop hanging out with “Zombie Kid” all the time. They say that everyone likes Summer, and that Julian has a crush on her. He would probably ask her out if she dropped August. Savanna says:
You could totally be a part of our group if you wanted to, and believe me, there are a lot of girls in our grade who would love that.
After hesitantly thanking Savanna and Henry, Summer says she needs to go to the bathroom. From there, she calls her mom and asks for a ride home. She stays in the bathroom...
(The entire section is 469 words.)
Chapter 51 Summary
At school the next day, Summer finds Savanna. She explains her abrupt departure from the party by saying she ate bad Halloween candy and got sick. She also says that she has a crush on a boy who is not Julian. Savanna, naturally, wants to know who, but Summer refuses to reveal the boy's identity.
August stays home the day after Halloween. The following Monday, he acts weird. He refuses to look at Summer, and he barely talks. When she asks if he is mad at her, he says he is not. She asks him about being sick, and his answer is curt. He picks up a book to read, as if she is not trying to have a conversation with him. Then he starts chewing with his mouth open, almost as if he wants to drive her away.
Summer finds this rude and thinks that August is giving off “a bad vibe,” but she keeps trying. She brings up the upcoming Egyptian Museum project for history. All the kids have to build a model of an Egyptian artifact and present it in a big evening event for parents. She asks about August’s topic, and he reveals that he got the Step Pyramid of Sakarra. She tells him she has to learn about a god called Anubis, and she invites him over to work on their projects at her house.
At this, August puts down his sandwich and stares at her. He tells her she does not have to pretend to be his friend. He knows that nobody actually likes him and that the principal asked kids to fake it for his sake.
Summer is confused and upset. She says nobody asked her to be August’s friend, but he does not believe her. She swears it is the truth, showing him her hands so he can see she is not crossing her fingers. He dives under the table to look at her toes, and he acts suspicious when he sees she is wearing tights. She shouts at him that her toes are not crossed.
By now, Summer is mad at August. She hates it when people blame her for doing things she never did. August apologizes, but she is too annoyed to accept the apology. Eventually, he tells the story about what Jack said on Halloween. This at least makes sense to Summer, and she forgives August. She promises not to tell anyone about Jack, and he promises not to act all mean and distant with her in the future.
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapters 52-53 Summary
Warning: This Kid Is Rated R
Summer warns her mom about August before bringing him home. Summer’s mom is “not always so good at faking her feelings,” and Summer is scared of embarrassment on all sides. Unfortunately, Summer’s efforts are not enough. When August enters their apartment for the first time, Summer’s mom stares in shock.
When he gets a call on his cell phone, Summer takes her mom aside and tells her to stop looking “weirded-out.” Her mom looks surprised, but afterward she acts normal toward August.
When August sees a picture of Summer’s dad, he asks if her parents are divorced. She explains that her dad used to be in the military, but he died. August says he is sorry, and she admits that she misses him all the time.
This leads Summer to ask August what he thinks happens when people die. He says he guesses they go to heaven, but she has her own theory. She thinks people go to heaven for a little while, then get bored and come back as different people to live new lives. She thinks of this as a “do-over” for the soul.
After thinking this over, August asks if people look different when they come back. Summer says they are completely different, and he likes this. “That means in my next life I won’t be stuck with this face,” he says. He describes how tall and handsome he is going to be next time around. Summer thinks that August is “a good sport about himself.”
Gathering her courage, Summer asks August why his face looks the way it does. He explains as well as he can, saying that he has "this thing called man-di-bu-lo-facial dys-os-tosis,” plus another syndrome, both of which “kind of just morphed into one big superthing” that has no medical name. August adds:
I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m actually considered something of a medical wonder, you know.
This is a joke, but it seems so serious to Summer that he has to tell her to smile.
The Egyptian Tomb
After that, August and Summer hang out together a lot after school. Their parents start hanging out too.
During the Egyptian Museum exhibit, the kids get to dress up in costumes and display their artifacts. The room is kept dark, like a tomb, and the kids lead their families on a tour by flashlight. Summer thinks this is a lot of fun.
August and Summer dress as mummies, with their...
(The entire section is 517 words.)
Chapters 54-55 Summary
Part Four of Wonder is told in the voice of Jack Will. He begins his story the summer before fifth grade, when his mom gets a call from the principal of his new school. He stands listening as she has a long conversation full of pauses and exclamations.
By the time his mom hangs up, Jack feels desperate to find out what is going on. She tells him that Mr. Tushman wants a few kids to help welcome a new boy who has been homeschooled his whole life. She adds that this boy has “something wrong with his face…or something like that,” and that Mr. Tushman feels it would help if he meets some nice kids before school starts.
Jack asks why he was chosen, and his mom says it is because his teachers picked him out as an especially nice person. He asks if she is going to make him do it, and she says no. But she also seems surprised and disappointed when he says he does not want to.
Jack already knows how badly deformed this boy is. He has lived in the area his whole life, and every kid in the neighborhood knows about August.
The first time Jack ever saw August, he was little. He and his younger brother, Jamie, were eating ice cream with their babysitter outside a store called Carvel. A family sat down nearby, and when Jack turned to look, he went “Uhh!” because he thought he was seeing a zombie. He realized immediately that this was not nice, and he could tell the kid’s sister was angry at him for it.
Veronica, Jack’s babysitter, stood up and said they had to leave. She pushed Jamie’s stroller away quickly, counting on Jack to follow. He did, glancing back at the kid and his family on his way. The kid was just eating his ice cream, but his mom was gathering their things to go. The sister, meanwhile, glared at Jack with murder in her eyes.
On the way home, Jack asked what was wrong with the boy. Veronica told him to be quiet, and never to stare at a person like that again. Jamie, who was too little to understand any of this, asked innocently why the boy was wearing a mask. Veronica seemed too upset to answer, so Jack explained that it was not a mask.
But Jack was confused too, and he asked Veronica why she seemed mad. She explained that she felt bad for rushing away like that, but she saw no other option. She was scared that Jamie would say something terrible and hurt the little boy’s feelings. She added:...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Chapters 56-57 Summary
Why I Changed My Mind
That evening, Jack asks his mother who else was invited to welcome August to Beecher Prep. When she names Julian and Charlotte, Jack groans and says that Julian is “the biggest phony there is.” His mom points that Julian, at least, agreed to help a kid in need. Jack falls silent, knowing she is right.
Jack tries to defend himself by explaining that August looks terrifying. He tries to describe August’s face, but he does not have the words. He asks his brother, Jamie, to back him up. Jamie says that he had zombie nightmares for weeks after seeing August. According to Jamie, he glimpsed August at the playground last year, and he screamed and ran away.
His mom is shocked, and she says she is disappointed in both her sons:
I mean, honestly, he’s just a little boy—just like you! Can you imagine how he felt to see you running away from him, Jamie, screaming?
This does not have any effect on Jamie. He says that he cannot help himself because August is “so ugly.”
After Jamie leaves the kitchen, his mom turns to Jack and seems ready to start a lecture. Jack cuts her off and says he will help the new boy. She is pleased, but he is not doing it for her—not even to avoid the lecture. Jack has changed his mind because he felt terrible when Jamie described running away from August. Jack reflects:
…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.
In his weeks of friendship with August, Jack has learned four things. Number one is that it is possible to get used to that face. It seemed impossible at first, but within a week the shock went away, and August’s face started to seem normal.
Number two is that August is a fun and funny guy. Jack actually enjoys hanging out with him.
The third thing Jack has learned is that August is smart, and also nice about being smart. He lets Jack cheat off him occasionally. Once, when a teacher talked to them about having the same answers on their homework, August just shrugged and said they did the assignment together. The teacher said they needed to do their own work from now on, and neither one of them even got in trouble.
Lastly, Jack has realized that he really wants to be friends with August. He puts it like...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
Chapters 58-59 Summary
Jack has no idea what “Bleeding Scream” means. He begs Summer to tell him why August is mad, and that is all she says. This annoys Jack because it came as a shock when August got mad at him. They were friends, and then suddenly August became cold and silent. When Jack asked what was going on, August refused to explain.
Now Jack is beginning to feel angry too. He hangs out with his other friends, telling himself that he and August can go on ignoring each other forever. But in the back of his mind, he admits that this is hard since the two of them sit together in every class.
At school, nobody talks to August except Summer, and sometimes Reid and the two Maxes. A lot of kids might still be playing the Plague. Jack isn’t sure because nobody invited him to play in the first place.
In school, Jack and August only talk if they cannot avoid it. In some ways this is good because now Jack can spend time with all his other friends, the ones who refused to hang out with August. Other kids all want to be popular, and they cannot do that with August around.
Jack reflects that he could now get into the popular crowd if he wanted to. Unfortunately, he does not like the popular kids, and he does like August. He wishes everything were not so “messed up,” and he tells himself it is all August’s fault.
Snow falls on the day before Thanksgiving break. Jack wakes up to a quiet, snowy world and he finds out that school is cancelled. “I’m always going to think that’s the best feeling in the world,” he thinks.
Jack’s dad, a teacher, has the day off too, so he takes the boys sledding at Skeleton Hill. Jack has a great time, and he finds a beat-up, abandoned sled on the way home. Although his dad tells him it is junk, Jack is pretty sure it could become an awesome sled. He takes it home and spends a full day fixing it and painting it.
The following day, Jack takes the sled to Skeleton Hill, and it turns out to be the fastest one he has ever ridden. He and Jamie take turns riding down the hill until their lips turn blue and their dad drags them home.
After vacation, the snow is gone, and the world is a mess. Jack feels like a mess too. He nods hello to August in the halls and wishes he could talk about the sled, but he knows he cannot.
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapters 60-62 Summary
Fortune Favors the Bold
In December, Mr. Browne gives his class the following precept: “Fortune favors the bold.” Jack thinks it over and decides that befriending August was the most courageous action of his life. However, Jack does not write about this. He is scared Mr. Browne will share it with the class. He ends up writing something stupid about when he was little. As he does so, he guesses August probably has a lot of options for what to write about.
Even though Jack goes to private school, his parents have little money. His parents, a teacher and a social worker, rent a walk-up apartment and have discussions late into the night about how to cut costs.
At recess one day, Jack hangs out with Julian, who is rich. Julian complains that he does not want to go to France for Christmas because “it’s so boring!” In the village where his grandmother lives, it is a momentous occasion if he spots “a new dog sleeping on the sidewalk.”
This makes Jack laugh, even though he is appalled that anyone could find a trip to France boring. He says nothing when Julian calls him “lucky” for getting to stay in New York. Julian says he hopes his parents will stay in town and throw a big party, which is an option they have considered.
When Jack mentions his new sled, a kid named Miles interrupts to tell everyone about an expensive new sled his dad bought to replace his old, broken-down one. Jack suggests that they all go sledding on Skeleton Hill, but Miles and Julian declare Skeleton Hill “junky” and “boring.” Miles adds that he left his old sled there, and somebody actually took it home. Jack soon realizes this is the sled he found and fixed up. He leaves before the others find out.
Jack is just an average student, and he does not particularly like any of the academic classes at school. His least favorite by far is science. It is a huge amount of work, and the teacher is very strict. August used to let Jack copy his notes, which helped a lot, but that does not happen anymore.
One day, the teacher introduces a major science project. Privately, Jack feels this is unfair because he just finished a huge history project in Egypt. He pictures a screaming face in his mind shouting, “Oh, noooooo!”
In a flash, Jack's brain leaps to Summer’s hint about Bleeding Scream. He remembers that, on...
(The entire section is 526 words.)
Chapters 63-64 Summary
Jack tunes out the teacher until she begins assigning partners for the science project. She puts August and Jack together and reminds them to get together to choose a topic soon. Before Jack can react, the bell rings and August disappears.
Not knowing what to do, Jack just stands there. Julian comes over and teases him about being stuck with his “best bud.” Jack tells Julian to shut up, but Julian suggests asking the teacher for permission to switch. Jack says no, but Julian approaches the teacher and explains that he and Jack really want to work together on a cool idea they have for the project. The teacher seems about to grant permission, but Jack says he does not want to switch, and he runs away.
Moments later, Julian appears, looking annoyed. “You don’t have to be friends with the freak if you don’t want to, you know…” he says.
Jack does not stop to think. He punches Julian in the face.
A few minutes later, Jack finds himself sitting in front of Mr. Tushman, totally unable to explain why he hit Julian. He knows he would say everything wrong, so he says nothing at all.
Mr. Tushman tells Jack that he is supposed to expel kids for fighting. In this case, expulsion seems like a bad idea, but Jack does need to explain himself. Jack's mom, who has come from work, pipes up to encourage him to speak. She seems to be “going back and forth between being really mad and really surprised.”
The adults say they thought Jack and Julian were friends, but Jack says they are not. When Mr. Tushman mentions that Jack knocked out a tooth, Jack says, “It was just a baby tooth.” This makes his mom angry, but Mr. Tushman keeps his patience and again presses Jack to explain why he did what he did.
Jack is scared to tell Mr. Tushman what Julian said about August. Julian might repeat what Jack said, and Jack cannot let that happen. He starts to cry, and he cries even harder when Mr. Tushman threatens expulsion again.
Eventually Mr. Tushman offers a deal: He suspends Jack until winter break, which is just a few days away. He says that Jack can come back after the vacation with “a clean slate” if he writes a letter of explanation to Mr. Tushman and a letter of apology to Julian.
With that, Jack and his mom leave, thanking Mr. Tushman on the way out.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapters 65-66 Summary
At home, Jack and his mom grab the mail and find holiday cards from both Julian and August. August’s family’s card has a picture of the family dog dressed up as a reindeer. Jack wonders aloud if they put the dog on their card every year.
Jack tells his mom that Julian’s mom used Photoshop to remove August’s face from the class picture. This shocks his mom, who asks if this is why Jack punched Julian. Jack says no, but then he explains. He tells her everything, even about Halloween.
Letters, Emails, Facebook, Texts
A few days later, Jack writes letters to Julian and Mr. Tushman to say he is sorry. In the letter to Mr. Tushman, he adds:
If it’s okay, I would rather not tell you why I did what I did because it doesn’t really make it right anyway. Also, I would rather not make Julian get in trouble for saying something he should not have said.
Julian does not reply to Jack’s letter, but Mr. Tushman writes a kind note to say he understands that every argument has many sides to it. He seems to have a good idea what the argument was about. Although he says it is never okay to hit anyone, he adds that “good friends are sometimes worth defending.”
The adults involved in this matter send a series of emails back and forth. Julian’s mother writes to Mr. Tushman to say she agrees that Jack should be allowed back into Beecher Prep. However, she adds that she feels Jack is under “too much pressure” because he has been pushed into friendship with a boy who has “special needs.” According to her, fifth graders’ “impressionable young minds” are not ready “to process all that.” She questions Mr. Tushman’s decision to admit August into Beecher Prep, and she hints that other parents agree with her on this issue.
In his reply, Mr. Tushman says that August does not have "special needs" and is in fact one of the better students in his class. Mr. Tushman adds that getting to know August is not a burden on kids. Rather, it gives them a chance learn valuable lessons “about empathy, and friendship, and loyalty.” At the end of his email, Mr. Tushman says that Jack Will has all of these qualities.
Meanwhile, Jack and August send some texts back and forth. Jack apologizes for what he said on Halloween and insists that he did not mean it. When August asks, Jack says he did indeed punch Julian....
(The entire section is 471 words.)
Chapters 67-68 Summary
Back From Winter Break
After winter break, the boys in Jack’s classes refuse to say hello, and some actually look scared of him. Jack guesses that he has “a form of the Plague” and that Julian is behind it.
The problem lasts all morning. The girls are still nice to Jack, as are August and the Maxes. The unexpected support of the two Maxes makes Jack feel guilty for never having been nice to them before.
At lunch, Jack sits with his friends Luca and Isaiah, the same kids he has been sitting with all year. When their table is sent to get up and buy lunches, Luca and Isaiah go and grab seats elsewhere. Jack is shocked. He knew such things happened in middle school, but he never thought anyone would do it to him. He spends the rest of lunch in the library.
Charlotte writes Jack a note to meet her in an empty classroom after school. When Jack arrives, she tells him that she wants to explain what is going on, but that he cannot let anyone else know where he got the information.
When Jack agrees, Charlotte explains that Julian’s family threw a party over winter break. They invited almost the whole class, including the parents. At the party, Julian told all the kids that Jack was emotionally disturbed because he “snapped under the pressure” of his friendship with August.
Jack is shocked at this, especially when he learns that Julian’s mom has asked the school to review August’s application. She is vice president of the school board, so she has a lot of influence with this sort of thing. Apparently, Julian’s mom is arguing that Beecher is not a suitable place for a child with special needs.
Here Jack interrupts to say that August has no special needs, and Charlotte agrees. However, she points out that the school has changed some of its policies, apparently for August’s sake. Fifth graders are usually asked to paint their own portraits, but this year they were asked to do “ridiculous self-portraits as animals” instead. Jack says this does not matter, and Charlotte agrees again—but the question is not up to them.
Returning to the main point, Charlotte says that Julian has convinced all the boys that Jack’s friendship with August is harmful. Julian says that everyone else has to shun Jack so he will realize he has to drop August. He is supposedly doing this for Jack’s sake.
At the end of this conversation, Charlotte...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
Chapters 69-71 Summary
At lunch the next day, Jack sits with a slightly less popular group of boys, Tristan, Nino, and Pablo. These are nice kids, so they say hi when Jack does. But when their table is called to get up and buy lunches, they switch tables on Jack. This time, the lunchroom teacher catches them at it and makes them go back.
Jack knows this is not going to help, so he grabs his tray and walks to the other side of the room. There Summer calls his name, and Jack sees her and August waving.
Why I Didn’t Sit With August the First Day of School
Jack calls himself a “hypocrite” for not sitting with August on the first day of school. According to Jack, the kids back then were all shocked at August’s appearance, and some people seemed scared. Jack knew August would be all alone in the cafeteria, but the two of them had been together in their classes almost all day. Jack wanted a break, so he went to the other end of the room and sat with Luca and Isaiah. Meanwhile, Jack heard Summer was sitting with August. He knew she was doing it without being asked, which is, in Jack’s opinion, “pretty brave.”
Now Summer and August welcome Jack, who sits down and explains that Julian turned the whole class against him. He leaves out the August connection, saying only that it feels weird to be ignored. This makes August smile. “Welcome to my world,” he says.
The next day, Summer comes to lunch with a list of the fifth grade boys, divided into three sections: “Jack’s side,” “Julian’s side,” and “Neutrals.” There are only five kids on Jack’s side, including Jack himself, August, and three unpopular boys. There are seven neutrals. Julian’s side has sixteen members, including all the popular boys and all the boys who are trying hard to be popular.
Jack is disappointed at how many kids are against him, but Summer points out that the two sides would be pretty even if the neutrals switched to Jack’s side. Still, Jack says he feels like he has the Plague. As soon as this comes out of his mouth, he realizes what he has said, and he apologizes to August. August shrugs and says he already knew about it, but he did not know what it was called. He claims he kind of likes the name.
When Jack asks, Summer says she got the list from Charlotte. Smiling, Summer adds that Charlotte has a crush on Jack. This makes Jack...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapters 72-73 Summary
Jack and August have not yet chosen a topic for their science project, and Jack keeps trying to put it off. But August is a serious student, so eventually he insists on meeting up after school to get some work done. This arrangement scares Jack because he is afraid August may have told his parents about Halloween. Jack only ends up talking to August’s mom for a couple of seconds, but she shows no sign of knowing anything.
August’s room is full of Star Wars stuff. He has great video games and a brand-new computer. Jack, who has no computer at home, is tempted to play with all this stuff, but August insists on working instead. August makes a series of suggestions, but Jack honestly does not want to do anything for the science fair. He plays with the dog, Daisy, whom he declares “the cutest dog ever.” August turns the conversation back to science, but Jack complains that all the topics sound hard or boring.
Eventually August convinces Jack to try making a lamp powered by potatoes. Just as they arrive at this decision, Olivia knocks on the door. Jack notices immediately how beautiful she is and how her eyes narrow when she hears his name. She says she is bringing someone to meet August, and August has to be nice.
When Olivia leaves, Jack asks if she knows about Halloween. August admits that she does and that she probably hates Jack for it.
A few minutes later, Olivia brings a boy her age to meet August. Jack thinks the boy, Justin, seems pretty nice. He wears glasses and carries an odd-looking case. He seems nervous as he compliments August’s bedroom. Watching this, Jack reflects that it is easy to forget how hard meeting August can be.
August grins and asks Justin if he is Via’s boyfriend. Nobody answers this question, which basically means the answer is yes. Together, Jack and August tease Justin about the case he is carrying, which looks like it contains a machine gun but really contains a fiddle. August suggests that Justin pretend it is a gun to prevent people from messing with him.
Justin explains that he plays the fiddle for a zydeco band, but August and Jack do not know what that is. When Justin explains that it is a kind of music from Louisiana, they think he must be from the South. He says he is from Brooklyn, which strikes Jack as funny. As Part Five of Wonder ends, he and August burst out laughing.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapters 74-75 Summary
Part Five of Wonder is told in the voice of Olivia’s boyfriend, Justin. He admits that he is shocked when he first meets August. Even though Olivia has prepared him by describing August’s appearance and his problems, Justin assumed all the surgeries would have done more good. But August actually looks pretty scary.
Justin tries to conceal his feelings, but he is not sure he succeeds:
Surprise is one of those emotions that can be hard to fake….whether you’re trying to look surprised when you’re not or trying to not look surprised when you are.
Justin and Olivia have been dating for two months. He liked her immediately, but he was scared to ask her out because she seemed standoffish. She is not a flirty girl, and she looks people directly in the eye when she talks to them. Justin took this as a challenge and looked at her right back. They got along well, so he asked her out. He was surprised but thrilled when she said yes.
Now, when Olivia takes Justin to her room, she seems nervous to hear his reaction to August. Justin lies and says he does not find August shocking, but she sees right through him. She tells him that when she was little, most kids refused to come back to her house after they saw August the first time. She says it was not meanness, just fear. People do not know how to handle August. She asks Justin if he can handle it, and Justin says he can. This makes Olivia smile, but he is not sure she believes him.
On Valentine’s Day, Justin and Olivia exchange gifts, and they go out to dinner with Olivia’s family. This is the first time he has met her parents, and he is so nervous that all his tics come out. Usually he is not bad, but stress like this makes the tics very noticeable.
But Olivia’s parents are extremely kind. They pretend not to notice the tics, just as they pretend not to notice the waiter’s reaction to August’s face. They ask all about Justin’s fiddle and his band. He marvels that by the end of dinner, they probably know more about him than his own parents do.
After dinner, everyone goes to Olivia’s house for ice cream, and they see that the dog, Daisy, has thrown up. Olivia’s dad cuddles the dog and tells a story about buying the dog from a bum on the street. He makes it a funny story, and everyone laughs.
It amazes Justin how...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Chapters 76-78 Summary
Olivia convinces Justin to try out for the lead male role in Our Town, and he gets it. She tries for the lead female role, but he does not think she tries very hard. Miranda, the popular girl with the pink hair, gets that role instead. Olivia says she is glad because she prefers not to have people staring at her. Justin has never heard a beautiful girl say such a thing.
Now Justin has far too much to do: play rehearsal, band practice, schoolwork, and Olivia. Fortunately Olivia likes helping him practice his lines, but Justin is worried he will not have enough time to get them right. It does not help that play practice started late because the school switched from Elephant Man to Our Town at the last minute.
All this means Justin is busier than he has ever been in his life. A lot of this busyness is good, but he is overwhelmed.
One beautiful March day, Justin and Olivia sit on her front steps practicing for the play. He recites a few beautiful lines about the passage of time, but he struggles to remember the end. Olivia prompts him when he needs it. He says he is never going to get them right, but she says he will be fine.
A ladybug lands on Olivia, and she captures it. She suggests they both make a wish, and they do, but they do not say what they wished for.
The Bus Stop
Olivia’s mom, August, and Jack come outside just as Justin is kissing Olivia goodbye. The boys giggle, but the mom ignores the kissing. She asks Justin to walk Jack to the bus stop and wait with him until his bus comes.
Justin agrees, but on the street, Jack says there is no need for Justin to wait. According to Jack, August’s mom is “way too overprotective.” Justin says he will wait anyway, and he reflects privately that Jack seems too young to walk around by himself. Justin walked around by himself at that age all the time, but he wishes he had never had to do so. Justin guesses that he will be an overprotective parent someday.
The bus is not scheduled to arrive for a few minutes, so Jack runs across the street to buy gum. Justin sees some other little boys come by and nudge each other. When Jack returns across the street, these boys follow Jack and make noises like they are throwing up.
When Jack returns to Justin, he pretends nothing happened. When Justin asks, Jack admits that he is friends with...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
Chapters 79-81 Summary
Opening night is almost here, and Justin is spending almost all his time practicing for the play. He is still struggling with his lines, but Olivia suggested that he bring his fiddle onstage. The director approved, saying it provided “an extra-folksy element,” so now Justin can pluck his fiddle whenever he needs time to remember a line.
One day when he has a break during rehearsal, Justin sits chatting with the pink-haired girl who plays the female lead, Miranda. Miranda casually asks if Justin has met Via’s brother. This shocks Justin, who had no idea that Olivia and Miranda were ever friends. Miranda explains that she has known Via and August forever. She gets out a photograph of a much younger August wearing an astronaut helmet, and she says proudly that she gave it to him.
Justin marvels that Olivia never mentioned Miranda before, but he tries to hide his feelings now. When Miranda asks if Justin is “okay with it,” he pretends not to know she is talking about August’s face. Miranda is not so shy: “the universe was not kind to auggie pullman,” she says.
The next day, Justin asks Olivia why she never told him about Miranda. Olivia snaps that she does not even know Miranda anymore. Justin does not understand this, and the conversation soon turns into an argument.
Olivia starts to cry, but she swears it is not Justin’s fault. She confesses that she has not told her family about the play because she does not want the kids at her new school to see August. She feels guilty about this, and she sobs in Justin’s arms. He thinks she is like “a little lost bird,” and he protects her under his “wing.”
That evening, Justin cannot sleep because he is thinking about Miranda’s words: “the universe was not kind to auggie pullman.” Olivia has told him that only one person in four million would ever be born like August. This idea bothers Justin because it makes life seem random, like a cruel lottery.
Eventually, though, Justin comforts himself with a new thought: August is not alone. He has loving parents, a big sister who protects him and feels guilty for not being perfect, and a friend who was willing to lose all his other friends over him. There is even Miranda, who carries a picture of August in her wallet. As Part Five of Wonder ends, Justin falls asleep, thinking, “the...
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapters 82-83 Summary
Part Six of Wonder returns to August’s perspective. He and Jack do a great job on their potato lamp, and they get an A on it. Jack is elated because he never gets As in science. August is happy too.
However, August is not thrilled with the arrangement of the science fair. He and all the other kids have to stand by their tables and explain their projects to everyone’s parents. There are sixty kids in fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and they bring sixty sets of parents. Some bring grandparents too. Those adults are not used to August the way the kids are by now, so their eyes keep getting drawn to him.
August hates school events for exactly this reason. He says that when people stare at him under normal circumstances, it is like stepping outside into a light rain. But when a whole crowd stares, he feels as if he is stuck in a “total hurricane.”
But August has done a few school events now, and he is starting to get good at managing the hurricane sensation. Today he watches the parents almost as much as they watch him. His parents spend most of their time with Summer’s and Jack’s parents. Julian’s parents walk around with Henry’s and Miles’s. He thinks it is funny that adults tend to befriend the parents of their kids’ friends.
The Auggie Doll
For a long time, the so-called “war” is the dominant aspect of fifth grade life for Jack and August at school. Julian and his friends leave notes in Jack’s and August’s lockers. Jack’s notes say that he stinks and has no friends. August’s notes call him “freak” or “orc.”
The boys decide not to report the notes to any teachers because they do not like the idea of tattling. Instead they retaliate by writing Julian notes from an imaginary, super-gross girl who asks him to tickle her feet.
Other than the notes and the ignoring, people leave August mostly alone. They know they could get in big trouble for messing with him. But they seem to think Jack is a safer target, and they often steal or destroy his stuff. Jack pretends this does not bother him, and eventually a lot of the boys get sick of it. Julian, Miles, and Henry keep it up, but some of the other boys—especially a big jock named Amos—step in to defend Jack from time to time.
These days, Julian is telling everyone at school that Jack has hired a “hit man” to attack him. This is so obviously untrue...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
Chapters 84-85 Summary
August has always had poor hearing, and he has always known that he would need hearing aids someday. This idea has always bothered him because he feels his ears are the most disgusting of all his features. They look “like squashed pieces of pizza dough,” and he is reluctant to call more attention to them. He has noticed his hearing getting worse for months, but he has been hiding it in hopes that he could graduate fifth grade without adding another weird element to his appearance.
But August cannot hide his bad hearing during a hearing test, so he gets sent to an ear doctor, who presents him with a pair of hearing aids on a big headband. August hates this contraption at first sight. The headband is the worst part, but it is necessary because August has no outer ears to hold the hearing aids up.
Angrily, August says that the hearing aids will make him look like Lobot. To his surprise, the ear doctor understands this Star Wars reference and declares Lobot’s headgear “cool.” To August, the ear doctor says, “It’s not like you’re going to look like Jar Jar, you know? That would be bad.”
Reluctantly, August tries the hearing aids on. He complains immediately that they do not help him hear. The ear doctor laughs and turns them on.
When the ear doctor turns on the hearing aids, August’s attitude changes immediately. He has long been living with a rushing sound, like the ocean, inside his head, but now that background noise disappears. Meanwhile, the sounds he should hear sound “bright" and clear.
When his mom asks him if he can hear better, August grins and tells her she can stop shouting. He learns how to change the volume, and he checks out how he looks in the mirror. It turns out his hair covers most of the headband, so he does not even have much to complain about. He agrees to wear the hearing aids from now on.
At school, August is sure kids will laugh, but nobody does. Summer and Jack are supportive. Summer just likes the idea that August can hear better, and Jack claims the hearing aids look like spy equipment. Nobody else even mentions them except for a teacher, who takes the opportunity to tell August to speak up if he cannot hear something.
In the end, August decides it was ridiculous to worry about the hearing aids. He reflects that it is "funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something...
(The entire section is 435 words.)
Chapters 86-87 Summary
At home, August’s mom discovers that Via and Justin are taking part in a school play. Mom is angry that Via said nothing about it, and their conversation soon turns into a screaming argument. August is in his room, but he can hear a lot of it with the help of his new hearing aids. He hears his mom ask why Via is so moody this year, and he hears Via defend herself. Eventually, Via screams an accusation:
You’ve been really good about leaving me alone my whole life, so why you chose high school to suddenly be interested I have no idea….
After that, the conversation gets too quiet for August's hearing aids to pick up.
At dinner, Via and Mom do not seem to be fighting anymore. However, the meal is fairly quiet because Dad is gone and Daisy, the dog, is sleeping off another bout of illness. Eventually, August asks if they are all going to see a play at Via’s school. Mom tells him that he would not be interested. She says that Dad will go to the play while she and August stay home.
This announcement makes Via angry. Now that her parents know about the play, she wants both of them to go. Her mom seems exasperated by this, and she says she has to take “everyone’s feelings” into account.
When August asks what this is about, Mom and Via tell him it has nothing to do with him. He immediately guesses what is really going on. He calls them both liars and accuses Via of being embarrassed of him:
You just don’t want your brand-new fancy high school friends to know your brother’s a freak!
With that, August flees to his bedroom and builds himself a little cave of pillows and stuffed animals. He crawls inside to hide his “disgusting face,” and he waits for Mom to come and comfort him.
She does not come, which shocks him. She always comes to help him, so why should today be any different? He wonders if she is giving Via grief for making him feel bad, and if their dad will do the same when he comes home. August hopes Via is feeling super guilty for making him feel the way he feels now.
Outside August's cave, the house is silent. He peeks out to check the clock, and he realizes that it has been half an hour. He is starting to get worried. Then the door opens, and Via comes running in.
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapters 88-89 Summary
Via tells August to come quick and talk to Mom, and August says he does not want to apologize. Via is disgusted. “Not everything in the world is about you, Auggie!” she says. It turns out that Daisy, the dog, is sick again. August is supposed to come and say goodbye.
August comes out of his cave, and he get scared when he sees Via crying. He holds her hand on the way to the living room, where he finds his mom cradling a whimpering Daisy. She says that she is taking Daisy to the vet, but she doubts Daisy will get better. Mom thinks the dog may have to be put to sleep.
August begs Mom not to take Daisy away, but he knows he cannot prevent this from happening, so he soon gives in. He whispers “I love you” into Daisy’s ear before she goes.
Via and August follow Mom to the door and watch while she loads Daisy into the backseat of a taxi. Just before Mom leaves, August shouts that he loves her, and that he is sorry for what he said. After Mom and Daisy are gone, August and Via hug each other and cry.
August and Via gather all of Daisy’s toys and set them on the coffee table in the living room. They sit around gloomily, waiting, and soon Justin joins them. Via tells them how, just after August left the room, Daisy started to moan and shake. She even bit Mom’s hand when Mom tried to help.
August cries, and Via hugs him close and says she is sorry for everything. August accepts the apology. The fight does not seem very important to him anymore.
A couple of hours later, Mom and Dad come home without Daisy, and they explain that Daisy had a huge, incurable mass in her stomach. Dad held her just the way she liked to be held, and Mom kissed her goodbye. Then the vet put Daisy to sleep. They all feel sure that the death was not painful.
Later that evening, August goes looking for someone to put him to bed. In his parents’ room, he finds his dad crying silently. August has never seen his dad cry before, and he thinks he may be “whisper-crying” so nobody else will notice. August sneaks out of the room without being seen.
Next August goes to Via’s room, but Via is sobbing on the bed while Mom comforts her. August decides that he is on his own, so he puts himself to bed without asking anyone to comfort him. He falls asleep in his pile of stuffed animals, imagining that Daisy is among them.
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapters 90-92 Summary
Chapters 93-95 Summary
Part Seven of Wonder is told from Miranda’s perspective. Her parents get divorced during the summer before ninth grade, and she hardly sees her father afterward. Her mother refuses to talk about it or about much of anything else.
Miranda does not want to go to camp right after her parents’ divorce, but her mom insists. Miranda gives in, figuring her mom wants time alone. At first, camp is awful, and Miranda is all alone.
Then she tells a lie: she says she has a deformed little brother. Overnight, Miranda becomes popular. She spends the summer sneaking out, smoking, and letting the popular girls change her look. Afterward, she calls Ella and talks about the fun parts of this experience.
Miranda avoids Via because Via would want to talk about all of it.
Now that school has restarted, Miranda does not see much of Via. Whenever Via is around, Miranda feels like she is being judged. It is obvious that Via does not like the popular crowd or Miranda’s new look. Miranda and Ella drift away. They pretend that Via has done something wrong because that makes the change easier.
Still, Miranda keeps track of Via from afar. When she notices that Via has a boyfriend, Miranda is surprised but sort of pleased. When Via signs up for theater, Miranda does too. Even so, the two of them basically ignore each other.
One day, Miranda sees the theater director photocopying scripts of The Elephant Man, a play about a deformed man. Again, Miranda lies and says she has a deformed brother—but this time she lies to protect Via. The theater director does not want to change the play at first, but Miranda gives him the impression that her parents would make a fuss.
Eventually the play gets changed to Our Town, and Miranda tries out for the lead. She only does so because she knows Via will do the same. Miranda is shocked when she gets the role.
What I Miss Most
Miranda misses Via, but she especially misses Via’s family. Via’s parents are everything Miranda’s own parents are not, and August is a sweet little boy. She does not find his face repulsive, and she loves him as if he were her own brother.
One day, Miranda calls August, who seems thrilled to hear from her. She is surprised but pleased to learn that he has started at a regular school and that he has made some friends. She soon...
(The entire section is 440 words.)
Chapters 96-98 Summary
Extraordinary, But No One There to See
Miranda’s parents do not come to the opening night of the play. Her mom is too busy with work, and her dad is too busy with his new wife, who is about to have a baby.
None of Miranda’s friends are in the audience either. Her boyfriend, Zack, has a volleyball game and seems annoyed at her for not ditching the play to watch him. Even Ella, Miranda’s friend since childhood, decides to hang out with the volleyball crowd instead of coming to the show.
By now, Miranda has realized that she has a talent for this acting thing. But to her, it hardly matters: “I was going to be extraordinary, but there would be no one there to see.”
While preparing for the show, Miranda spots August in the crowd. On impulse, she rushes to the director and claims to be too sick to go onstage. He argues with her, but she insists. Eventually he calls for Olivia to play the lead role instead.
As Via puts on Miranda’s costume, she seems to sense that Miranda is not telling the truth about her illness. She asks why Miranda is not going onstage, but Miranda does not have time to answer. She reflects that this does not matter: “I don’t know what I would have said…I wasn’t sure what the answer was.”
The show goes well, and Miranda thinks Via is “awesome.” Via only makes one mistake with the lines, and Justin does a great job of covering the problem. Throughout the show, the director is “a wreck.” He seems more nervous than all of his cast and crew combined, but everything goes fine. The audience obviously loves the show.
During the curtain call, Miranda feels a twinge of jealousy, but it disappears when Via’s family comes backstage to congratulate her. In the hubbub, Miranda sees August looking lost, so she goes to say hello.
After the Show
Miranda chats with August a bit, and soon Via and her family come over. When they ask if she is feeling better, Miranda says she is okay now. They thank her for letting Via go on, and she downplays the choice. After all, she gets to appear in two more shows.
At the end of this conversation, Via’s family invites Miranda out to dinner. Miranda tries to say no, but Via puts an arm around Miranda and demands that she come along.
As Part Seven of Wonder ends, Miranda feel happier than she has felt in ages.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapters 99-101 Summary
The Fifth-Grade Nature Retreat
In Part Eight, Wonder returns to August’s perspective. August is preparing for a spring trip to a nature reserve with his fifth grade class. There, the kids will sleep in cabins, roast marshmallows, and explore the woods. The other kids are thrilled to go, but August is more scared than happy.
Unlike all his friends, August has never once spent the night away from his parents. He has never been to camp or stayed overnight with his grandparents. He has spent plenty of time in the hospital, but one of his parents always stayed with him.
When August was little, sleepovers were impossible because his medical needs were so demanding. As he got older, he never really wanted to sleep anywhere away from home—except once, at Christopher’s house. He was having a good time there, and he begged to be allowed to have a sleepover. But when bedtime arrived, he freaked out. His dad had to drive the three hours to Christopher’s house to bring him home.
This memory has left August a little scared of nights away from home. Even so, he is excited too.
August asks for a new, non-Star-Wars duffel bag for the nature retreat. He has noticed that kids in middle school are all “known for” a particular interest, such as marine biology or baseball. He has decided that Star Wars will not be the thing everyone associates with him. He reflects that “Star Wars will always be special” to him, but he wants a different kind of image at school.
On reflection, August thinks that kids at school know him for one big reason already, but he cannot change that. The Star Wars part of his image can be changed, so he focuses on that.
While his mom packs his new bag, August sits on his bed and worries about the trip. He asks what will happen if he cannot get to sleep at night, and she suggests bringing a book and a flashlight so he can read. He asks about nightmares, and she says he can wake a teacher or a friend. After thinking it over, August says he wants to pack Baboo, his favorite stuffed animal, just in case he needs comfort during the night. He makes sure Mom packs Baboo deep in the bag where other kids will not see him.
Mom has her own worries, and she reminds August to wear bug spray and sunscreen every day. She also tells him to be careful...
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Chapters 102-103 Summary
August wakes up very early, and he thinks he sees Daisy sitting on the end of his bed. He does not realize at first that this is a dream until after Daisy disappears. Still, the sight of his dog makes him feel strong. He waits for the world to start waking up outside, and then he gets up and begins getting ready for the day. Before leaving his room, he fishes Baboo out of his bag. He hides the stuffed bear under the pillow with a note:
Dear Mom, I won’t need Baboo, but if you miss me, you can cuddle with him yourself. xo Auggie
On the bus, August has a great time with Jack, Summer, and Maya. Julian is not there, nor is he on the other bus. Eventually, August learns that Julian thinks nature camp is “dorky,” so he decided not to come. This news thrills August, whose worries about camp centered largely on the difficulties of spending a whole weekend around Julian.
At camp, the kids make their way to the cabins, where August shares a bunk bed with Jack. They both want the top bunk, but August wins rock, paper, scissors and gets it for himself. The other kids in the cabin are mainly boys who are fairly nice to August, so that is good too.
Later, August takes a hike through “real woods,” which he defines as wilder wilderness than Central Park. He thinks the trees and plants are awesome, and he is pleased to discover that his hearing aids make him better at noticing bird calls than the other kids.
During the hike, it rains, and August dutifully puts on his poncho to protect his hearing aids. His feet get soaked, but he does not mind. He and the other boys in his cabin end up having “a wet-sock fight” when the hike is over.
After a bit of indoor free time, the rain lets up. Everyone is happy about this because they get to have a cookout under the stars. They eat hot dogs and s’mores by the fire. It is very buggy, but August does not get bitten much because he followed his mom’s advice about bug spray. Then it gets dark, and everyone looks at the stars. August is amazed how many there are. They do not look that way from New York City at all.
August does not need his book at bedtime. He is so tired he falls asleep immediately.
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Chapters 104-106 Summary
On the second day of nature camp, August goes horseback riding and tree climbing. In the afternoon, during rest time, August writes his parents a short letter. He likes the idea of reading it to them himself; obviously it will not get home before he does.
After dinner, the kids board buses to some nearby fairgrounds for an outdoor movie night. August’s school is the first to arrive, so he and his friends lay their stuff on the ground right in front by the screen. There are booths selling snacks and sodas, and more booths with carnival games. August and Jack buy snacks. They try the games too, but they do not win.
Soon kids from other schools arrive, and by the time everyone gets settled, it is already dark. Suddenly, lights go on around the movie screen. The effect is dramatic, and the kids clap and cheer.
Be Kind to Nature
Before the movie, an announcer speaking through big speakers welcomes the students from each of the three schools participating in the movie night. Next, he asks them to clean up their messes and “be kind to nature.” He tells them not to step past the orange cones around the edge of the school. Apparently a few kids get lost every year.
The final announcement is the title of the movie: The Sound of Music. August claps, but many kids from other schools boo. Somebody throws a soda can at the screen. August sees Mr. Tushman glare toward the thrower of the can, but he cannot do anything because the kid is not from Beecher Prep.
When the movie begins, August sits back to watch.
The Woods Are Alive
In the middle of the movie, Jack whispers to August that he has to go to the bathroom. August gets up with Jack, and they walk to the bathrooms, where they find a huge line. Jack does not want to wait, so he decides to find a tree instead. August does not like this idea, but he goes along anyway.
On their way into the woods, Jack and August see Amos, Henry, and Miles—all friends of Julian’s. None of them are exactly fighting with Jack and August anymore, but only Amos is friendly with them. When Henry makes a threatening comment about bears, Amos makes clear that it is only a joke.
Jack spends a long time searching for “the perfect tree” to pee on, and August hangs back. He ends up peeing on a tree himself, but he does not go far into the woods in the dark like...
(The entire section is 447 words.)
Chapters 107-108 Summary
On their way back to the fairgrounds, Jack and August come across a group of six kids from another school. They are big kids, probably seventh graders, and they are busy smoking and lighting firecrackers in the woods. They point their flashlights at Jack and August, and several of them scream. “No freakin’ way!” one kid says. “What is that?” shouts another.
It takes August a moment to realize these kids are screaming about his face. He and Jack try to move on, but the leader of the seventh graders stops them. He shines the light in August’s face, and an argument ensues about which movie character August most strongly resembles: Gollum from Lord of the Rings, an orc from Lord of the Rings, or the alien from Alien.
Jack tells the seventh graders to back off, but Eddie, the ringleader of the older kids, shoves Jack to the ground. August steps in front of Jack and says, “Look, we’re a lot smaller than you guys….”
At this moment, August hears more kids approaching. Amos’s voice cuts through the darkness and orders Eddie to leave Jack and August alone. August helps Jack up, and Amos starts to lead them away. But Eddie yanks on August’s hood and knocks him down. After that, Amos rams Eddie “like a monster truck.”
After a scuffle, somebody grabs August and shouts at him to run. August obeys, but another person grabs him from the other side. The two grabbers rip August’s sweatshirt down the middle. August is confused and unsure of what is going on, but he obeys when his rescuer again tells him to run. He feels like he is underwater as he races through the darkness.
Voices in the Dark
Eventually somebody says it is safe to stop, and August finds himself in the middle of a huge cornfield with Jack, Amos, Henry, and Miles. They all fall silent for a moment to make sure they cannot hear anyone following them. When they are sure they are safe, they talk on top of each other to retell the story of what just happened. During this conversation, Amos, Henry, and Miles admit that they went back into the woods to make sure August and Jack were okay because those seventh graders “looked like jerks.” August also learns that it was Henry—one of Julian’s two best friends—who helped him up after he fell.
Jack thanks Amos, Henry, and Miles, high-fiving them all in the dark. August thanks them too, but he is...
(The entire section is 561 words.)
Chapters 109-110 Summary
The Emperor’s Guard
For a while, the boys help August look for the hearing aids, but they have lost the flashlight they were carrying, and there is no chance of finding anything in the dark. August calls off the search, saying they should all get back to the movie.
The boys work their way back to the fairgrounds, where they all look warily for the seventh graders. They do not see anyone, and Amos guesses that the kids probably returned to the fairgrounds to look innocent in case August reported them. At this, everyone looks to August, who says he does not want to tattle. The boys accept this, and Amos offers to walk with August if he needs to go anywhere else tonight.
On the way back to their seats, August tries to pull his hoodie over his head. He feels disoriented without his hearing aids, but he is not scared of the bullies. His four companions walk on all sides of him: front, back, right, and left. He thinks privately that they are like his “emperor’s guard.”
It turns out that none of the kids or teachers from Beecher Prep even noticed that August and Jack were gone. They all seem engrossed in the movie, and August reflects that the worst days of his life are like that. As terrible as they are to him, they could be regular or even great days to somebody else. “Maybe somebody won the lottery today,” he muses.
After dropping August and Jack off at their seats, Amos, Henry, and Miles return to their places. This seems the same as before, but August can tell that life is different now. Miles, Henry, and Amos tell their friends what happened, and soon all the kids are talking about it.
The teachers find out about the incident on the bus ride home, and Mr. Tushman takes August to the camp nurse for first aid. The teachers interview all the kids involved, asking for a description of the kids who attacked them. August pretends not to remember their faces, but he does. Above all, he remembers the horror and the hatred in their expressions.
Thinking it over, August remembers how his dad said August would go to middle school “like a lamb to the slaughter.” Now, finally, August really understands what this phrase means.
That night August is exhausted again, but he cannot fall asleep. He reads with his flashlight until 2:00 a.m., afraid to switch off the light and face the memories of the seventh graders’ faces in the dark.
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapters 111-112 Summary
On the way home, Mr. Tushman says he called August’s parents to let them know that there was a bullying incident, but that August is okay. Mr. Tushman also says that the adults at camp spent the morning looking for August’s hearing aids but failed to find them. Privately, August thinks that Eddie may have stolen them “as a kind of souvenir.”
At school, Mom is waiting for August. She hugs him tightly but does not demand to hear what happened. August gets his bag, and as he does, he notices that a lot of kids are saying goodbye to him and patting him on the back. Mr. Tushman hugs August goodbye before he goes.
The arrival home is sad for August because he has forgotten that Daisy is gone, and he misses greeting her at the door. Inside, his mom hugs him again, and August can tell she is worried. He says he is fine.
As his mom makes lunch, August starts to tell her about the weekend. He says that except for last night, it was awesome. He wishes those seventh graders had not “ruined the whole trip.” Mom advises him not to let anyone control his feelings that way. If he had a good time, he should focus on that, not on the bad parts.
August tells his mom that the boys who attacked him were seventh graders, but that Jack and Amos fought them anyway. His mom asks why they were in the woods in the first place, and August explains that Jack wanted to avoid the bathroom line. He can tell she disapproves of this decision, but she does not say so. She just asks him to go on with his story, and he says he wants to wait until Via and Dad get home so he does not have to repeat the story a bunch of times.
When August is finished eating, he asks if he is going to have to face people like those seventh graders his whole life. Mom thinks this over seriously, and she says:
There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie…But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.
A few minutes later, August’s dad and Via get home. Dad is carrying a cardboard box, and he asks August to open it. When August obeys, a puppy pops out.
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapters 113-115 Summary
August and his family name the puppy Bear. Both August and Via stay home from school the next day to play with him. Privately, August reflects that he and Via do not see so much of each other now that he goes to school. He enjoys spending some quality time with her, and he thinks she feels the same.
Back at school, August notices a huge change. All the kids at school, including the ones in the older grades, know about August and Jack getting attacked at camp. By now the story has morphed into a huge adventure, including major fistfights and a long stint in a cornfield maze. August likes Jack’s version best because it is funny.
The important parts of the story stay the same through all the retellings: August got bullied because of how he looks, and the other boys defended him. August’s relationship with Amos, Henry, and Miles is completely different now. They all call him “little dude” and fist bump him when they see him. Other kids are friendlier too.
August is not the only person whose popularity status has changed. Amos, whose role in the fight makes him a hero in the eyes of his classmates, becomes the most popular boy in the class. Miles and Henry stick with Amos, leaving Julian on the outskirts of their group. Julian does not disguise his annoyance at this, or his continued hatred for August and Jack. August and Jack do not let it bother them.
On one of the last days of school, August gets called to Mr. Tushman’s office. There, Mr. Tushman shows him his broken hearing aids, which were found in the locker of a boy named Edward Johnson at another school. Mr. Tushman says August could press charges, but August is not interested. The principal advises him to discuss the matter with his parents.
August has made the high honor roll, and he accepts Mr. Tushman’s congratulations. When Mr. Tushman asks, August says he had a good year. The principal agrees but says he wishes August had asked for more help when Julian gave him trouble. This comment surprises August, who is impressed that the teachers figured out what was going on. After cracking a couple of jokes about his all-knowing position as middle school principal, Mr. Tushman says that Julian is not returning to Beecher Prep next fall. This news comes as a shock—the good kind—to August.
At this point, August sees his self-portrait as a duck on the...
(The entire section is 506 words.)
Chapters 116-117 Summary
The Last Precept
In English, the final precept of the year is as follows: “JUST FOLLOW THE DAY AND REACH FOR THE SUN!” Mr. Browne reminds the class to send him a precept over the summer.
On the day of fifth grade graduation, Dad drives August to school. They arrive too early to go in, so they sit in the parking lot and sing along with the radio. As they wait, August frets about his hair, which is cut shorter than he has ever worn it before. He let Via put gel in it, and now he is regretting the choice. His dad tells him it looks fine, and that August looks more grown-up now.
Together, August and Dad marvel at everything that has happened over the year. August remembers his old Star Wars braid and teases Dad for hating it. Dad says politely that he “definitely didn’t love it,” but he adds that he hated August’s old astronaut helmet. He admits that he trashed it when August was recovering from surgery.
This is news to August, and he is furious. He demands to know how Dad could throw away one of his kid’s favorite possessions, and Dad begs August’s forgiveness. He says that wearing that helmet was never good for August, and he adds:
I missed seeing your face, Auggie. I know you don’t always love it, but you have to understand…I love it. I love this face of yours, Auggie, completely and passionately. It kind of broke my heart that you were always covering it up.
August forgives his dad, who begs him never to tell Mom. At this, August grins and jokingly lists off all the great stuff he wants: a new Xbox, a Porsche when he turns sixteen, and so on. By the time Jack arrives a few minutes later, August and Dad are laughing.
Before August gets out of the car to go inside and prepare for graduation, Dad stops him and double checks to make sure he is really forgiven. August says yes, but he asks Dad never to throw anything away like that again.
August goes to join Jack, but as an afterthought, August sticks his head back into the car and asks Dad not to kiss him after the ceremony. “It’s kind of embarrassing,” he says. Dad promises to try to remember, but he says he doubts Mom will be able to stop herself. August accepts this and heads inside.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapters 118-120 Summary
Take Your Seats, Everyone
August and Jack go to the auditorium, where teachers direct them to join the other fifth graders. Sixth graders are a part of the same ceremony, but they go to a separate room to get ready.
While they wait for the ceremony to begin, Jack and August sword-fight with rolled-up programs. Summer comes to say hi, and she is wearing make-up. August compliments her, but Jack only says she looks “okay.” This makes August suspect that Jack is developing a crush on Summer.
A Simple Thing
The auditorium is huge, and August is amazed at the number of people in the audience. He sits through the long introduction by the headmaster, and then Mr. Tushman gets up to speak.
In his address, Mr. Tushman comments that he always tries to cut down on the work of speechwriting by reusing material from different grades or years. However, he is never able to do this. He says it is because the particular age of middle schoolers demands original attention. His students exist “at the edge between childhood and everything that comes after,” and he feels compelled to honor that.
Today, Mr. Tushman congratulates his students on making it through a school year, growing and changing and learning on the way. He adds that he is especially impressed by the growth he has seen in them emotionally. He reads a quote from J. M. Barrie: “Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”
Mr. Tushman says that he loves this quote because it makes him think about kindness as a choice. He reads another quote that touches on this idea, and he says that he wants the kids in his school to know how valuable kindness can be. He asks them to pursue their dreams and goals, but also to choose to be “kinder than is necessary” as often as possible. If they do this one thing, they will each help to create a better world.
An awards ceremony comes at the end of the graduation program. August stands up with all of the kids who made the high honor roll. Two girls, Charlotte and Ximena, get the biggest academic prizes. Amos gets a sports award, which makes August happy. Summer wins the award for creative writing, which makes August even happier.
After the creative writing award, Mr. Tushman announces the Henry Ward Beecher medal, which always goes to a “notable or exemplary” student....
(The entire section is 469 words.)
Chapters 121-123 Summary
At first, August does not realize that he has won the final award. But everyone around him starts cheering and chanting his name, and they tell him to get up and go to the podium. Kids wave to him and high-five him on his way to the front. One of the teachers actually cries tears of joy.
August feels like he is floating as he walks to the front of the room. When he arrives, the audience gives him a standing ovation. August finds this amazing. He feels like he is a character in Star Wars receiving an honor for blowing up the Death Star.
As August stands onstage, he wonders why anyone would give him a medal. But just as quickly, he figures out the answer. He is the kind of person that people call brave because they cannot imagine facing the challenges he faces.
To August, this seems strange. He still feels like a normal person, but he decides that he is okay with winning an award just for being himself:
I didn’t destroy a Death Star or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade. And that’s not easy, even if you’re not me.
At the reception after the ceremony, August decides he is not embarrassed when his parents and sister hug and kiss him. His grandparents and aunts and uncles hug him too. It surprises August to see Miranda crying with happiness for him. When she hugs him, she refuses to let go until Via laughingly pulls her off.
People start taking pictures with August, and for once he smiles at all the cameras without worrying about his face. Soon Jack and Summer come over to pose with him, and then a bunch of other kids do the same. Pretty soon, almost the whole class is squeezing in for pictures with August. To his surprise, they do not try to avoid getting close to his face. In fact, it seems like they are all trying to shove in closer.
The Walk Home
August’s family throws a little party after the reception, and Jack’s and Summer’s families join them. The weather is beautiful as they all walk home together, and August still feels like he is floating on air.
August walks with Jack and Summer. They all keep laughing at everything they see. The adults are laughing and joking too, but August notices that his mom is not with them. She is trailing behind, smiling quietly. On impulse, August pulls away from his friends and...
(The entire section is 490 words.)