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 each other’s birthday parties every year. Nobody else invites August to his or her birthday parties, at least not lately. He remembers all the kids who ever did invite him, but he has not seen some of them in a long time.
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, by the way. And Dad is handsome. Via is pretty. In case you were wondering.
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....
(The entire section is 509 words.)
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.
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...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
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.
(The entire section is 539 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 419 words.)
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.
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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.
(The entire section is 416 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 424 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 411 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 414 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 496 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 425 words.)
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....
(The entire section is 428 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 465 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 463 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 446 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 483 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 542 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 419 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 469 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 423 words.)
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,...
(The entire section is 517 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
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,...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
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....
(The entire section is 526 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 419 words.)
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:...
(The entire section is 471 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 433 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 423 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
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...
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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.
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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...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 440 words.)
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...
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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...
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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...
(The entire section is 418 words.)
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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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....
(The entire section is 417 words.)
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...
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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...
(The entire section is 490 words.)