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:
Jack, sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone. Understand?
Jack tried to understand, and he is still trying. Ever since that day, he has tried to act normal when he sees August. But it is hard.