Readability Age Range
- 8 to 12
Four different narrators tell this story: Virgil Salinas, Valencia Somerset, Kaori Tanaka and Chett Bullens. Virgil is a shy, skinny 11-year-old who struggles with learning and is afraid to speak up. Smart but friendless Valencia is deaf and in Virgil’s resource class. Kaori calls herself a psychic and feels she was born in the wrong place. Chet is a bully who mocks those who are different.
Virgil’s dad and brothers are soccer fans. When Virgil wants to take piano lessons, his dad says he needs to play sports, not fool around on a silly piano. Lola, his grandmother, tells him about a recurring dream: a boy begs a rock to eat him, and he gets eaten and is never seen again. Virgil wonders whether his parents would look for him if he were that boy. But he believes Lola would chisel the rock to pieces to find him.
Virgil ends his last day of sixth grade with one major regret. He failed to speak to Valencia, a girl he has seen at school and wanted to talk to. He schedules an appointment with Kaori to see if her psychic abilities can help him fix this Grand Failure.
Although Virgil goes out of his way to avoid Chet, the two cross paths. Chet calls him names and mocks him. Virgil envisions an alternate version of himself. His alternate would be able to grab Chet by the neck and throw him across the neighborhood. Chet would land on a chimney and be roasted. But in real life, Virgil runs away from Chet.
When Kaori learns of Virgil’s problem with Valencia, she is sure she can help fix things. She tells him to meet her the next day with five special stones. Virgil agrees to do this. Kaori’s mother says no one in the family is interested in second sight. Kaori’s mother has no appreciation for former lives and reincarnation.
Meanwhile Valencia is having a recurring nightmare about being the only one left on the planet. She has no one she can talk to about the dream.