Chapters 67-68 Summary
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 would do it to him. He spends the rest of lunch in the library.
Charlotte writes Jack a note to meet her in an empty classroom after school. When Jack arrives, she tells him that she wants to explain what is going on, but that he cannot let anyone else know where he got the information.
When Jack agrees, Charlotte explains that Julian’s family threw a party over winter break. They invited almost the whole class, including the parents. At the party, Julian told all the kids that Jack was emotionally disturbed because he “snapped under the pressure” of his friendship with August.
Jack is shocked at this, especially when he learns that Julian’s mom has asked the school to review August’s application. She is vice president of the school board, so she has a lot of influence with this sort of thing. Apparently, Julian’s mom is arguing that Beecher is not a suitable place for a child with special needs.
Here Jack interrupts to say that August has no special needs, and Charlotte agrees. However, she points out that the school has changed some of its policies, apparently for August’s sake. Fifth graders are usually asked to paint their own portraits, but this year they were asked to do “ridiculous self-portraits as animals” instead. Jack says this does not matter, and Charlotte agrees again—but the question is not up to them.
Returning to the main point, Charlotte says that Julian has convinced all the boys that Jack’s friendship with August is harmful. Julian says that everyone else has to shun Jack so he will realize he has to drop August. He is supposedly doing this for Jack’s sake.
At the end of this conversation, Charlotte explains that the girls are neutral, and that August and Summer know nothing about any of it. When Charlotte leaves, she checks the hall carefully to make sure she is not seen, and Jack reflects that Charlotte’s neutrality has its limits.