August was born with mandibulo-facial dysostosis, a severe birth defect which combined with other abnormalities to disfigure his face. When the novel opens, August is ten-years-old and has survived a number of plastic surgeries that reshaped his mouth and jaw, correcting his cleft palate. His loving and protective parents have been homeschooling him all this time but are debating sending him to a middle school called Beecher Prep. August and his parents take a tour of the school during summer. Jack Will, Julian, and Charlotte show him around. Jack and Charlotte are both polite, but Julian asks rude questions about August's defects. August decides to enroll at Beecher Prep anyway. He knows going in that his classmates will stare at him and call him a freak. He deliberately sits in the back of the class, where fewer people will notice him. Jack Will sits with him, and August starts to think of Jack as a friend. That changes on Halloween, when August overhears Jack and Julian talking about how the principal forced Jack to be friends with August. August doesn't talk to Jack for a long time. Only after Jack punches Julian, the villain of the novel, do the boys reconcile. August invites Jack to sit with him and Summer at lunch. Gradually, August begins building a friend group. Kids get used to his face and start realizing he's funny. He happily attends a wilderness retreat with his classmates. Unfortunately, some older boys from a different school attack August and Jack in the woods, taking August's hearing aids. This has the unexpected effect of making August popular at school, where the story of how he defended himself against the older kids spreads amongst his classmates. Julian, who previously organized a campaign to shun August and Jack, finds himself ostracized now that all his classmates have decided they like August. To August's delight, Julian won't be returning to Beecher Prep the following year. In recognition of his bravery in the face of difficult circumstances, August receives an award for honorable behavior at the fifth-grade graduation. His friends congratulate him, and August marvels at how his life has changed. He's almost a normal kid now and is very happy he decided to go to school.
Olivia "Via" Pullman
Olivia is August's older brother. She earned the nickname "Via" at school, and her family continues to call her Via years later. Prior to August's birth, Olivia was an only child, and pictures indicate that she was always the center of attention. After August's birth, however, that changed, and Via learned how to live in August's shadow, managing her own schedule and arranging her own rides. Olivia is a loving sister and fiercely defends August from bullies but often feels neglected. She starts lying to her parents after her friendship with Miranda disintegrates. Instead of finding another ride, she takes the subway home against her mother's wishes. Wanting something just for herself, she starts dating a boy named Justin, whom she convinces to try out for the lead male role in the school play, Our Town. Via is glad when she doesn't get the lead female role, because she doesn't really want everybody staring at her. Nevertheless, when the opportunity rises to take Miranda's place as the lead, Via takes it. Miranda's charitable act allows the friends to reconcile.
Mr. and Mrs. Pullman
Mr. and Mrs. Pullman are loving, protective parents. Both of them like jokes, and they make August laugh with a story about the farting nurse who helped deliver him at the hospital. They use humor to lighten situations and make August feel like a regular kid. August's mother is the one who lobbies to send August to Beecher Prep. August initially harbors some resentment toward her, and she, in turn, feels guilty, terrified that she made a bad decision by sending August to middle school "like a lamb to the slaughter." Thankfully, she and August reconcile. One unfortunate side effect of the attention on August is that Mr. and Mrs. Pullman tend to ignore their oldest child, Via. Realizing this, they go to see her perform in a play, bringing Augie with them even though strangers will stare at him there. In the end, Mr. and Mrs. Pullman prove to be the best parents August could ever hope to have.
Jack Will is one of the three students who guide August around Beecher Prep at the beginning of the novel. Of the three, he's the quietest, and he refuses to participate in Julian's rude questioning. At the end of the tour, he smiles at August, suggesting that he wants to be friends. He sits next to August in their shared classes, and they walk together in the halls. Months later, August learns that Jack is just being nice because Mr. Tushman told him to be. On Halloween, Jack, unaware that August is within earshot, tells Julian that he's sick of pretending to be friends. He doesn't mean this, however, and he becomes upset when August...
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