Read Auggie & Me Online

Authors: R J Palacio

Auggie & Me

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CONTENTS

COVER

ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE PAGE

INTRODUCTION

THE JULIAN CHAPTER

PLUTO

SHINGALING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALSO BY R. J. PALACIO

COPYRIGHT

About the Book

You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

WONDER
is the award-winning story of Auggie Pullman: an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, who is desperate to fit in.

Julian
has always felt uncomfortable around Auggie – but a summer spent with his grandmother in Paris makes Julian see Auggie with new eyes.

Christopher
is Auggie's oldest friend – and knows better than most that being part of Auggie's life comes with its challenges.

Charlotte
has always been nice to Auggie: but in a year of torn loyalties and damaged feelings, is being nice really enough?

Now read a new side to the
WONDER
story, from three characters whose lives have been changed by Auggie forever.

Introduction

“Is there going to be a sequel to
Wonder
?” someone in the audience asks.

“No, I'm sorry,” I answer, a little embarrassed. “I don't think it's the kind of book that really lends itself to a sequel. I like to think that fans of
Wonder
will imagine for themselves what will happen next to Auggie Pullman and all the other people in his world.”

That exchange, or something like it, has happened at just about every book signing, speaking engagement, or reading I've done since
Wonder
came out on February 14, 2012. It's probably the question I get asked the most, aside from “Will there be a movie of
Wonder
?” and “What inspired you to write
Wonder
?”

Yet here I am, writing an introduction to a book that is, for all intents and purposes, a companion to
Wonder
. So how exactly did that happen?

To answer that question, I have to discuss
Wonder
just a little bit. If you've bought this book or been given it as a gift, there's a good chance you've read
Wonder
already, so I don't need to tell you too much about it. Suffice it to say that
Wonder
is the story of a ten-year-old boy named Auggie Pullman, who was born with a craniofacial difference, as he navigates the ups and downs of being the new kid at Beecher Prep middle school. We see this journey through his eyes and the eyes of several characters whose lives happen to intersect with his over the course of that pivotal year, and whose insights enhance the reader's understanding of Auggie's passage to self-acceptance. We don't hear from any characters whose stories don't directly expand upon Auggie's story within the time frame of that fifth-grade year, or whose understanding of Auggie is too limited to shed light upon his character.
Wonder
is Auggie's story, after all, from beginning to end. And I was very strict with myself about telling his story in a simple and linear way. If a character didn't propel the narrative forward—or told a story that ran parallel to, or before or after, the events in
Wonder
—then he or she didn't get a voice in the book.

That's not to say that some of these other characters didn't have interesting stories to tell, however—stories that might have explained their own motivations a bit even if those revelations didn't directly affect Auggie.

Which is exactly where this book comes in.

To be clear:
Auggie & Me
is not a sequel. It doesn't pick up where
Wonder
left off. It doesn't continue to tell the story of Auggie Pullman navigating middle school. In fact, Auggie is only a minor character in these stories.

What this book is, precisely, is an expansion of Auggie's world. The three stories in
Auggie & Me
—
The Julian Chapter
,
Pluto
, and
Shingaling
, all originally published as short ebooks—are told from the perspective of Julian, Christopher, and Charlotte, respectively. They are three completely different narratives, telling the stories of characters who only occasionally, if at all, appear in each other's stories. They all do have one thing in common, though, which is Auggie Pullman. His presence in their lives serves as a catalyst by which they're each transformed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Auggie & Me
is also not a sequel in a traditional sense because there's no continuation of Auggie's story, other than a brief fast-forward in Julian's chapter to the summer after fifth grade, which provides a nice coda to the Julian/Auggie story line. But other than that, readers don't find out what happens to Auggie Pullman in the sixth grade, or in high school, or beyond. I can guarantee that
that
book, the de facto sequel, will never be written. And that's a good thing, folks. One of the most beautiful by-products of writing
Wonder
is the amazing fan fiction it has generated. Teachers are using it in classrooms, asking students to get into character and write their own chapters on Auggie, or Summer, or Jack. I've read stories devoted to Via, Justin, and Miranda. Chapters written from Amos's point of view, and Miles's and Henry's. I've even read one child's very poignant short chapter from Daisy's point of view!

But perhaps the most touching story-writing I've read has been about Auggie, with whom readers seem to have a passionate sense of involvement. I've had kids tell me they know for sure that Auggie will grow up to be an astronaut. Or a teacher. Or a veterinarian. They tell me these things with great—almost empirical—authority, by the way. No dillydallying. No guesswork. So who am I to disagree with them? And why would I write a sequel that would limit all those options? Auggie, as far as I'm concerned, has a bright and amazing future full of infinite possibilities, each one as lofty as the one before.

I am truly blessed that readers of
Wonder
feel close enough to him to envision for themselves how his life will go. I know they understand that just because I chose to end
Wonder
on a happy day in Auggie's life, it doesn't guarantee him a happy life. He will surely face more than his fair share of challenges as he grows older, with new ups and downs, new friends, other Julians and Jacks and, of course, Summers. Readers will hopefully intuit from how Auggie has handled himself over the course of his first year at Beecher Prep, with all its accompanying trials and tribulations, that he has what he needs inside of him to triumph over whatever life hurls his way, withstand the challenges as they come, stare down the starers (or laugh them away). There with him always, through good times and bad, will be his amazing family—Isabel and Nate and Via. “The only thing I know that truly heals people is unconditional love,” wrote Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which may be why Auggie will never succumb to any wounds inflicted by the careless words of passersby or the choices of his friends. Those he has, too—friends both known and unseen—who will stand up for him when it counts the most.

In the end, readers of
Wonder
know that the book has never really been about what happens to Auggie Pullman. It's about how Auggie Pullman happens to the world.

Which brings me back to this book—or, more accurately, the three stories contained in
Auggie & Me.

When it was first suggested to me that I write these short ebooks, these
Wonder
stories, I jumped at the chance—most specifically on behalf of Julian, who had become a much-loathed persona among
Wonder
fans. “Keep calm and don't be a Julian” is even something you can Google now, as people have taken it upon themselves to make their own cautionary posters.

And I completely get why Julian is so disliked. Until now, we've only seen him through the eyes of Auggie, Jack, Summer, and Justin. He's rude. He's mean. His stares, his nicknames for Auggie, his efforts to manipulate his classmates to turn against Jack are tantamount to bullying. But what's at the root of all this rage against Auggie? What's up with Julian, and why is he such a jerk?

Even as I was writing
Wonder
, I knew that Julian had a story to tell. I also knew that his story of bullying, or why he bullies, was of little consequence to Auggie and had no impact on the story line, and therefore didn't belong in
Wonder
. It's not for the victims of bullying to find compassion for their tormentors, after all. But I loved the idea of exploring Julian's character in a short book of his own—not to exonerate his actions, since his actions in
Wonder
are reprehensible and indefensible, but to try to understand him better. It's important to remember that Julian is still just a little kid. He has acted badly, yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a “bad kid.” Our mistakes don't define us. The hard part is coming to terms with our mistakes. Will Julian redeem himself? Can he? Does he want to? These are the questions I ask and answer in
The Julian Chapter
, even as I shed some light on why Julian behaves toward Auggie the way he does.

The second short book in
Auggie & Me
is
Pluto
. Told from the point of view of Auggie's oldest friend, Christopher, who moved away several years before the events of
Wonder
take place,
Pluto
is a unique look into Auggie's life before Beecher Prep. Christopher was there with Auggie through his early hardships and heartbreaks—the horrific surgeries, the day Nate Pullman brought Daisy home for the first time, the old neighborhood friends who seem to vanish from Auggie's life. Now that he's older, Christopher struggles with the challenges of staying friends with Auggie—the stares, the awkward reactions of new friends. It's tempting to walk away from a friendship when it becomes difficult, even under the best of circumstances—and Auggie's not the only one who is testing Christopher's loyalty. Will he hang on or let go?

The third short book is
Shingaling
, told from the point of view of Charlotte, the only girl chosen by Mr. Tushman to be one of Auggie's welcome buddies. Throughout
Wonder
, Charlotte maintains a friendly, if somewhat distant, relationship with Auggie. She waves hello when she sees him. She never sides with the kids who are mean to him. She tries to help Jack, even if it's in secret so no one else knows. She's a nice girl—no doubt about that. But she never goes out of her way to be more than nice.
Shingaling
delves into the life of Charlotte Cody during fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and readers learn there was a lot of other stuff going on that year about which Auggie Pullman didn't know: dance performances, mean girls, old allegiances, and new cliques. Maya, Ximena, Savanna, and especially Summer feature prominently in
Shingaling
, which, like
Pluto
and
The Julian Chapter
, explores the life of an ordinary kid who is touched by extraordinary circumstances.

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