Chapters 13-14 Summary

First-Day Jitters

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.

August is good at opening locks because he uses them on his bike. He gets his new lock open on the first try, but the kid hiding behind his backpack cannot open his at all. August reflects that he would gladly offer to help if the other kid did not insist on hiding.