THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2014 by R. J. Palacio
Cover art copyright © 2014 by Tad Carpenter
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-553-49908-7
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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer remember.
—Jorge Luis Borges, “The House of Asterion”
Fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.
Lord of the Flies
Okay, okay, okay.
I know, I know, I know.
I haven’t been nice to August Pullman!
Big deal. It’s not the end of the world, people! Let’s stop with the drama, okay? There’s a whole big world out there, and not everyone is nice to everyone else. That’s just the way it is. So, can you please get over it? I think it’s time to move on and get on with your life, don’t you?
I don’t get it. I really don’t. One minute, I’m like, the most popular kid in the fifth grade. And the next minute, I’m like, I don’t know. Whatever. This bites. This whole year bites! I wish Auggie Pullman had never come to Beecher Prep in the first place! I wish he had kept his creepy little face hidden away like in
The Phantom of the Opera
or something. Put a mask on, Auggie! Get your face out of my face, please. Everything would be a lot easier if you would just disappear.
At least for me. I’m not saying it’s a picnic for him, either, by the way. I know it can’t be easy for him to look in the mirror every day, or walk down the street. But that’s not my problem. My problem is that everything’s different since he’s been coming to my school. The kids are different. I’m different. And it sucks big-time.
I wish everything was the way it used to be in the fourth grade. We had so, so, so much fun back then. We would play tackle-tag in the yard, and not to brag, but everyone always wanted a piece
of me, you know? I’m just sayin’. Everyone always wanted to be my partner when we’d do social studies projects. And everyone always laughed when I said something funny.
At lunchtime, I’d always sit with my peeps, and we were like, it. We were totally
. Henry. Miles. Amos. Jack. We were it! It was so cool. We had all these secret jokes. Little hand signals for stuff.
I don’t know why that had to change. I don’t know why everyone got so stupid about stuff.
know why: it was because of Auggie Pullman. The moment he showed up, that’s when things stopped being the way they used to be. Everything was totally ordinary. And now things are messed up. And it’s because of him.
And Mr. Tushman. In fact, it’s kind of totally Mr. Tushman’s fault.
I remember Mom made a big deal about the call we got from Mr. Tushman. At dinner that night, she went on and on about what a big honor it was. The middle-school director had called us at home to ask if I could be a welcome buddy to some new kid in school. Wow! Big news! Mom acted like I won an Oscar or something. She said it showed her that the school really did recognize who the “special” kids were, which she thought was awesome. Mom had never met Mr. Tushman before, because he was the middle-school director and I was still in the lower school, but she couldn’t stop raving about how nice he’d been on the phone.
Mom’s always been kind of a bigwig at school. She’s on this board of trustees thing, which I don’t even know what it is but apparently it’s a big deal. She’s always volunteering for stuff, too. Like, she’s always been the class mom for every grade I’ve been in at Beecher. Always. She does a lot for the school.
So, the day I was supposed to be a welcome buddy, she dropped me off in front of the middle school. She wanted to take me inside, but I was like, “Mom, it’s middle school!” She took the hint and drove off before I went inside.
Charlotte Cody and Jack Will were already in the front lobby, and we said hello to each other. Jack and I did our peeps’ handshake and we said hello to the security guard. Then we went up to Mr. Tushman’s office. It was so weird being in the school when there was no one there!
“Dude, we could totally skateboard in here and no one would know!” I said to Jack, running and gliding on the smooth floor
of the hallway after the security guard couldn’t see us anymore.