As we come closer and closer to the movie adaptation’s release date, so comes the question if those covered below will have their stories diminished to give Jacob Tremblay the focus he needs for his assumed Oscar nomination.
The Rest of Part 1: August
From where we left off, nearly a month ago, there is a lot to talk about with August. First and foremost, school, at first, goes well. I mean, yeah, kids kind of ostracize him but Jack Will becomes a consistent force in Auggie’s life. To the point he won’t replace Christopher, per se, but definitely will take up the time Christopher once did. Though, Jack Will isn’t the only new friend August makes. To some surprise, someone Mr. Tushman didn’t have to push also becomes friends with Auggie. In fact, she takes the opportunity to be Auggie’s friend in the most crucial and scary time in a middle schooler’s life: Lunch. A time period Jack is nowhere to be found. Thus making this girl named Summer not just a consistent lunch partner bhut eventually a godsend.
If only because Auggie’s good friend Jack Will, the one he’d joke around with class and pretty much spend his entire day with, betrays him. On Halloween, he says to Julian that if he looked like August, he’d kill himself. And you know, while August is used to being called names by strangers, or people like Julian, this was his friend. His friend said that if he looked like him he’d kill himself. So Auggie decides to just pretend to be sick and stay home. Even to the point of nixing trick or treating. An alarming decision to his parents.
Part 2: Via
As you might be able to imagine, having a little brother who with various health issues, who is in and out of hospitals for surgery, that means being a little selfless. You know, accepting that sometimes something is going to come up and then off your parents go. Sometimes forcing you or relying on others to make sure you are okay.
Which is why Via liked her grandmother, on her mother’s side. With her, there wasn’t any sharing, knowing you are loved but not being able to be the most doted on or anything like that. In fact, Grans, as Via calls her, even said out of everyone, including August, she loved Via the most. Not to be mean to August, but she figured he had enough angels looking after him so she wanted to be someone dedicated just to Via. Which perhaps brought some solace when she died and gave Via something to hold onto. In her young life, she was someone’s undisputed favorite – without question.
Something which helps Via starting high school a little bit. For while, on one hand, it is great because that she isn’t August’s sister who has to field a million and one questions about him at the same time her best friends are drifting away. Miranda and Ella, who have been Via’s friends since 1st grade, join some popular clique and she is left behind. Leading to her eventually joining the smart kids’ group, of which her Trojan horse is a girl named Eleanor. Which ends up not being so bad. It is how she meets Justin – who is featured in part 5.
Outside of that, it is noted that genetics wise, no one else in the family has August’s condition and she digs a bit into explaining his facial features. Which, again, for visual sakes, is this:
Part 3: Summer
As you can imagine, a pretty girl like Summer hanging out with August is a bit odd. Especially since there is this game about getting the plague if August touches you. Yet, Summer is above all that. Though, not above wanting to be popular. Hence why she flirts with the idea of becoming friends with Savanna. However, with Savanna making fun of August, and it being noted Julian likes her? Much less being given an ultimatum between Savanna’s crew and August? She decides to ditch the party and pretend she wasn’t feeling well.
But here is the thing, after Jack revealing his true feelings about August, even if Summer is nice when August isn’t around, he thinks she is being friends with him out of obligation. If not pressure from Mr. Tushman (which gets brought up again). Something he reveals to her, both the Jack thing and also believing she was pressured to be friends with him, and that gets her really mad. One for what Jack said and two, him daring to think she’d just be friends with him because someone else pressured her to.
So, with that argument settled, it is agreed they will work on their Egyptian projects together at Summer’s house. Of which, of course, Summer’s mom has to be prepped for August and she tries to hold back but it is hard. However, after the projects are done, so comes the topic of death. You see, Summer’s dad, assumingly a white guy, died in the military and now it is just her and her mom. With the topic of his death comes the topic of souls and August hoping that his soul is beautiful so that in the next life he won’t have the face he does. All of which is said in a joking way but you know he is dead serious.
Leading to the setup for part 4: Jack approaches Summer during the Egyptian exhibit at school. He comments on how Summer and August dressed as mummies [note] Since they became super close over the history of the project (I’m talking parents having dinner together and even talking about setting Summer’s mom up). [/note]and acts like he doesn’t know why August is mad at him. Which baffles Summer a bit so she just tells him “Bleeding Scream.” Which represents August’s Halloween costume
Part 4: Jack
Out of everyone, it seems only Jack knew of August before he became his classmate. Years ago, when he was 5 or 6, he and his little brother saw August. A moment which was potentially embarrassing since Jamie, Jack’s little brother, was making comments like “Is it Halloween?” and the type of stuff which would embarrass any adult when such questions are used to describe another person.
Leading to the question of why did Jack take the option, he could have said no to, to befriend August? Well, simply because he thought August wouldn’t stand a chance in middle school. Especially if generally nice kids like his little brother would make fun of him. Yet, like Summer, though pity may have been the initial reason for interacting with August, what they found was a true friend. One which Jack threw away only because he wanted to go along with what Julian and other boys were saying – despite not being fond of Julian nor the popular crowd.
However, all is eventually forgiven after Julian says something and Jack punches him for it. Though it almost gets Julian expelled, and puts more pressure on August, since Julian’s mom thinks the fight happened due to Jack helping a “special needs” kid, the dynamic duo are back together! Albeit now with Jack having no ability to turn back since Julian had him blackballed, but who needs them anyway?
On The Fence
The Different Perspectives
You know how in a dramatic film they sometimes employ a comic relief to lighten up things? In a way, it felt like when we went from Jack saying he’d kill himself if he looked like Auggie to transferring over to Via, we got a relief from the pending tears. Which, I kind of didn’t like to be honest.
On one hand, learning about Via’s life as August’s sister, what it was like to be Auggie’s friend, without Mr. Tushman pushing it, much less what led to Jack doing what he did, was cool. I appreciated the different viewpoints. However, at a little past 180 pages now, I suddenly feel like this book has barely passed a few weeks and it was spent filling every last detail imaginable.
Some of which, like us learning Via is losing her friends in high school just seemed like the type of things which belong in another book. Though, to my surprise, while there are books on Julian, Charlotte, and even a picture book featuring the adventures of Daisy and Auggie, there isn’t one featuring Charlotte. So I guess her purpose, like everyone else, wasn’t to establish their life outside Auggie but to present this inkling of an idea that other people in Auggie’s life have problems too.
Hence the droplet about Summer’s dad being dead, it being noted that Jack is poor, so poor he takes a rich kid’s thrown away sled and remodels it for his own use. But with looking at the Amazon page for this book and seeing “Grade level: 3-7” and “Age Level: 8 – 12,” I realize I’m judging this book a bit too harshly and need to adjust what I expect.
It is just, again, the way that movie trailer hits me, I was really expecting an inspiring book that got me teary eyed and I feel like the meandering through supporting characters took that from me. Making me wonder how the movie will gel all these lives into what you know is going to be pushed into the type of film which should get Jacob Tremblay an Oscar nomination.