62 pages 2 hours read

R. J. Palacio

Auggie & Me

Fiction | Short Story Collection | Middle Grade | Published in 2014

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Summary and Study Guide


Auggie & Me is a collection of three stories by R. J. Palacio, published by Knopf in 2015. Auggie & Me is a set of three short stories written as a companion to Palacio’s famous novel, Wonder. Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth grader who was born with a craniofacial condition that causes a facial disability as well as difficulty hearing and other symptoms. Auggie & Me shows the way that different characters introduced in Wonder are impacted by their relationships with Auggie.

Plot Summary

The first story, “The Julian Chapter,” is written from the perspective of Julian Albans, the antagonist in Wonder. Julian is upset that the social dynamics at his school, Beecher Prep, have changed since Auggie started attending. Julian thinks that he is over the nightmares that he used to suffer from as a young child but seeing Auggie brings them back. His mother blames his fears on the principal for allowing Auggie to attend school but doesn’t help Julian navigate his fear. To make things worse, Julian’s friend, Jack Will, is now friends with Auggie. Julian starts making fun of Auggie. He creates a game called “the plague” where their classmates can’t touch Auggie and leaves hateful notes in Jack and Auggie’s lockers. One day, Julian makes a comment about Auggie and Jack punches him in the face. When the principal finds out about Julian’s notes, Julian is suspended and misses the fifth-grade trip to the nature preserve. When he returns, everyone is friends with Auggie and Jack, who had an encounter with seventh-grade bullies. Julian is shocked to discover that everyone thinks he’s a bully and feels isolated. At the end of the school year, he goes to spend the summer with his Grandmère in Paris.

When Julian reaches out to the English teacher at Beecher Prep, Mr. Browne. Mr. Browne replies, encouraging Julian to reflect on why he hates Auggie. Julian’s Grandmère, shocked to hear that Julian was the bully at school, sits him down for a story. When she was a little girl, her friends made fun of their classmate whose legs were disabled by polio. They called him “Tourteau” and avoided being around him. When Nazi soldiers came to collect the Jewish students, Tourteau saved her. He and his parents hid Julian’s Grandmère throughout the war. At the end of the war, the Nazis took Tourteau to a concentration camp because of his physical changes. Grandmère reveals that Tourteau’s real name was Julian, and that she named her son, who goes by Jules, after him. Upon hearing this story, Julian is overcome with remorse. When his parents return, he convinces them to drop their lawsuit against the school. He writes an apology to Auggie, hoping that Auggie won’t remember how mean he was in the future.

The second story, “Pluto,” follows Auggie’s oldest friend, Christopher Blake. Christopher’s family has moved from New York City to Bridgeport. His story alternates between present day and his memories of growing up with Auggie.

Christopher and Auggie were close before he moved away. As Christopher gets older, he realizes that people treat him differently when he’s around Auggie. Even two of their best friends stop spending time with them when their new friends fear Auggie. When Christopher moves, he and Auggie slowly talk less. He feels awkward being on a video call with Auggie when his other friends are around.

In the present, Christopher wakes up to go to school. He’s immediately grumpy with his mother. He’s disappointed that her promises for their life in Bridgeport haven’t worked out how they planned. Despite her promises to get him a dog, all he has is a hamster. His parents recently separated. When Christopher’s mother tells him that Auggie’s dog, Daisy, died, he reminisces over their time together, but doesn’t want to reach out to Auggie. On his way to school, Christopher realizes he has left important things at home and insists his mother go back to get them. He anxiously waits for her to arrive at school, attending each class and the embarrassment of having forgotten his science paper, his gym shorts, and his trombone. Christopher thinks that she went to comfort the Pullmans after Daisy died and resents her for this.

At band practice, Christopher is caught between the older boys, who want to play “Seventh Nation Army,” and his friend, John, who wants to play “The Final Countdown.” At the end of the day, his father arrives to bring him home, explaining that his mother was in a car accident. Christopher blames himself for her being in the car. Christopher’s mom only broke her leg, and they bring her back to the house. Christopher is shocked to get a text from the older boys at school inviting him to join their band if John doesn’t come. Later, Auggie and Christopher text, and then Auggie video calls him. Talking to his friend comforts Christopher. He feels safe around the Pullmans and ends up crying when Auggie’s mom speaks with him. After embracing his father, Christopher starts feeling better. He and Auggie talk again, and Auggie helps him through the math homework that previously felt impossible. As Christopher goes to bed, he texts the older boys that he will stay in the after-school band with John.

The third story, “Shingaling,” follows Charlotte, another student at Beecher Prep. Charlotte used to pass a blind man playing his accordion on her way to school. When the man goes missing, Charlotte is distraught. She and her mother organize a coat drive for the unhoused, but Charlotte still wonders what happened to “the accordion man” (185). At school, Charlotte tries to stay neutral during the conflict between Jack and Julian, which she calls “the boy war” (188). Despite siding with Jack and Auggie, Charlotte doesn’t want to draw negative attention from the popular group, who her best friend, Ellie, has joined. While Charlotte understands why Ellie did this, their friend Maya doesn’t. She is a little socially awkward and sees things in extremes. She blames Ellie’s betrayal on the new girl, Ximena Chin.

One day, there’s an opportunity to audition for a dance performance at the school gala. At the audition, Savanna, the leader of the popular group, teases Charlotte. Charlotte knows that her classmates think she’s over-eager, but she just feels enthusiastic about becoming a Broadway star one day. When Charlotte, Ximena, and Summer are chosen, Savanna blames Charlotte for taking her spot. At their first dance rehearsal, Summer and Charlotte bond upon discovering that they both knew the “accordion man,” who is named Gordy Johnson. They become friends with Ximena, who ends up being nice. The three of them spend time at each other’s houses, even though they don’t interact with each other at school. One day, Maya gives Ellie a note that tells her how hurt she was that Ellie stopped being friends with her, blaming it all on Ximena. Even though Maya’s actions hurt Ximena, she admits that she could have been nicer at the start of the year. This makes Charlotte reflect on her own actions.

The day after the performance, Ximena crosses the lunchroom and apologizes to Maya. This shocks Maya and makes her reconsider whether people are just “good” or “evil.” Charlotte realizes that Maya has been loyal and decides she wouldn’t switch tables even if she could. At the end of the school year, Mr. Tushman tells Charlotte that he is proud of her, and in a normal year, she would have been given a special award. Charlotte tells Mr. Tushman that Summer should get an award for being kind to Auggie. At the end of the year, Charlotte runs into Gordy Johnson. He tells her that he has been in Florida for the winter, which is why she and Summer couldn’t find him.

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