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 this:
Like, if all the guys in the fifth grade were lined up against a wall and I got to choose anyone I wanted to hang out with, I would choose August.