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 Lilly!” Lilly was a doll she had been given so she could practice being a good older sister. She had loved the doll, but when August came along she abandoned it. Afterward, she spent her time kissing and cuddling and playing with the real baby instead.