“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
I picked this book up because one of my lecturers (an absolutely lovely woman) highly recommended it to us. After all, facial deformities like cleft palate are very relevant to our future speech pathologist careers. But my lecturer wanted us to read it because she had found it so touching that she and her young daughter cried reading it together. I’ve hardly met someone as sincere as this kind lady. I knew there had to be something about Wonder.
I guess I was expecting magic but I was disappointed. There was no fairytale magic, nor did I cry (I’m a real rock). Instead, I found a timeless book celebrating life’s imperfections, from biggest to smallest. The best part? It was all told from the perspectives of a few pseudo-naive yet hauntingly real children. Haunting because I can see it all happening as if I were back in the school playground, and it’s a wake up call when I look down at my eleven year old self and ask: “Would you have been brave enough to be Auggie’s first friend?” She hesitates and stares back cluelessly. It makes me smile sadly and pat her on the shoulder.
Wonder took me on a roller coaster ride, one more exciting than I’ve had in a while. I felt depressed, hopeful, afraid and envious. I winced. I laughed. I wanted to hug those little characters. I wanted to meet Auggie. Palacio told the story so realistically that it’s a book for all ages. Anyone can learn something from these kids – and despite the heavy issues surrounding them, those kids never felt like anything but kids to me. They’re at that special age of adolescence where they walk a tightrope between childhood and maturity, and Palacio keeps them in a precarious balance with amazing character voice.
Long story short, this book brought childhood and adulthood together for me. Children can be cruel and helpless. Yet they can also be more altruistic and open-minded than adults. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we were those amazing little people once, and that they still exist around us everywhere.
This is the imperfect magic of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, and it has me entranced.
bird photograph credited to cargocollective | quote created by me on Pinwords