Part I

In this novel, a boy with facial anomalies tries to navigate the sometimes treacherous world of public school. Learn these words from R.J. Palacio's heartwarming and thought-provoking bestseller.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. ordinary
    the expected or commonplace condition or situation
    But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.
  2. stare
    look at with fixed eyes
    I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.
  3. extraordinary
    highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable
    They see me as extraordinary.
  4. cleft
    a split or indentation in something
    They told Mom and Dad I had a cleft palate and some other stuff going on.
  5. palate
    the surface of the mouth separating oral and nasal cavities
    I had a surgery to fix my cleft palate when I was a baby, and then a second cleft surgery when I was four, but I still have a hole in the roof of my mouth.
  6. forewarn
    notify of danger in advance or beforehand
    Be forewarned that some lockers are not right outside this class but down the hall, and before anyone even thinks of asking: no, you cannot switch lockers and you can’t switch locks.
  7. precept
    a rule of personal conduct
    "Basically, a precept is anything that helps guide us when making decisions about really important things.”
  8. plaque
    a tablet that commemorates a person or achievement
    “Did anyone happen to notice the plaque next to the door of this school?"
  9. alignment
    adjusting the parts of something in relation to each other
    And even though I had jaw-alignment surgery a few years ago, I have to chew food in the front of my mouth.
  10. adjust
    alter or regulate so as to conform to a standard
    Then she would tell the doctor when he made his rounds what needed adjusting or things like that.
  11. contagious
    capable of being transmitted by infection
    They would take the longest way around me to avoid bumping into me in any way, like I had some germ they could catch, like my face was contagious.
  12. deed
    something that people do or cause to happen
    That’s why your deeds are like your monuments.
  13. monument
    a structure erected to commemorate persons or events
    The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died.
  14. mortality
    the quality or state of being subject to death
    The things we do outlast our mortality.
  15. nauseous
    feeling about to vomit
    Apparently, she had checked herself into the hospital because she’d been feeling nauseous.
  16. outcome
    something that results
    You see movies and TV shows where people receive horrible news in hospitals, but for us, with all our many trips to the hospital with August, there had always been good outcomes.
  17. accommodate
    have room for; hold without crowding
    They bulge outward because his eye cavities are too shallow to accommodate them.
  18. verge
    come close to
    The top eyelids are always halfway closed, like he’s on the verge of sleeping.
  19. jagged
    having a sharply uneven surface or outline
    Several surgeries to correct his lip have left a few scars around his mouth, the most noticeable one being a jagged gash running from the middle of his upper lip to his nose.
  20. implant
    fix or set securely or deeply
    When he was very little, before a piece of his hip bone was surgically implanted into his lower jaw, he really had no chin at all.
  21. defect
    an imperfection in a bodily system
    Most kids born with these types of birth defects have problems with their middle ears that prevent them from hearing, but so far August can hear well enough through his tiny cauliflower-shaped ears.
  22. catastrophe
    a state of extreme ruin and misfortune
    Does August see himself as he might have looked without that single gene that caused the catastrophe of his face?
  23. gauge
    judge tentatively or form an estimate of
    He looks better now, no doubt about that, but the signs we used to gauge his moods are all gone.
  24. sarcastic
    expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds
    It was the first time in his life that I heard him be sarcastic like that.
  25. illuminate
    make lighter or brighter
    The only thing illuminating her was the blue night-light in August’s bedroom.
  26. pore
    direct one's attention on something
    I’ve pored over grainy sepia pictures of long-dead relatives in babushkas; black-and-white snapshots of distant cousins in crisp white linen suits, soldiers in uniform, ladies with beehive hairdos; Polaroids of bell-bottomed teenagers and long-haired hippies, and not once have I been able to detect even the slightest trace of August’s face in their faces.
  27. genetic
    occurring among members of a family usually by heredity
    There’s that other part of his genetic makeup that’s not inherited but just incredibly bad luck.
  28. quip
    witty remark
    I’d never realized how funny she was (not laugh-out-loud Daddy-funny, but full of great quips), and she never knew how lighthearted I could be.
  29. plague
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    Anyone who accidentally touches August has only thirty seconds to wash their hands or find hand sanitizer before they catch the Plague.
  30. syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease
    But I also have this other syndrome thing that I can’t even pronounce.
Created on August 24, 2013 (updated November 15, 2017)

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