Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Auggie is 10 years old, but he has never gone to school. He doesn't look like other kids, and while in his words, he doesn't look normal, he is normal, but how do you get other people to realize that when they can't get past how you look. Finally, his parents think that he should start attending school, so they sign him up for Beecher Prep where he learns that life will not always be easy for him, but that being a good friend will win out in the end.
This book is told from several points of view including Auggie and his friends Jack and Summer as well as his sister Via and her friends Jason and Miranda. All of these narrators not only contribute their own stories, but help shape Auggie's character as well. This is a truly beautiful book about accepting people as they are and showing compassion and friendship wherever you go.
I loved this book. Even though it follows a pretty common theme-the odd outsider works his way into the hearts of the school-it was incredible! Auggie wasn't just going to school for the first time, he was also growing up. From giving up his Star Wars obsession to leaving his stuffed bear at home, you realize just how much Auggie is maturing during the book, and that would not have happened if he had not started attending school.
It is also interesting how others react to Auggie's appearance, but how everyone says you get used to it once you get to know Auggie and how he is funny and kind. I thought that the idea of setting him up with friends rang very true, that is something that I can understand principles and teachers doing, but that those "friends" were not his first true friend, like Summer.
Oliva, or Via, was also an interesting character because she grew up knowing that since Auggie needed special treatment, she would have to make do on her own. Her growth in this book was also very true and touching. I especially like that her grandmother treated her so kindly, because Via did need to hear that she was someone's favorite.
Then, woven into this wonderful plot, were song and book quotes, and precepts from Mr. Browne. These little touches were not necessary, but added another layer to an already beautiful book. I hope to post the Wonder reading list tomorrow by listing all of the books that are mentioned. I also think that having children write their own life precepts would be a good class activity after reading this book.
Wonder should be required reading for everyone, in my opinion at least, but I don't write the school curriculum. It is a book that makes you feel better and more hopeful for the world. It's a book that makes to run around the house singing Wonder by Natalie Merchant (which is quoted in the text) all day long. You will hold Auggie and all his friends in your heart, and I'm sure I will come back to them from time to time when I need a lift.
Wonder is a 2014 Caudill book, and I think that it really has a shot. There are some very funny parts of this book, and even though it could be preachy, I didn't feel like it crossed that line. I used to hate reading some of the "meaningful" books on the Caudill list, and some of them do beat you with the message, but Wonder is thoughtful, heartfelt, funny, and accessible. I can't stop saying enough nice things about it. Let's just say that I read it at the right time.
I highly recommend Wonder if you are looking for a book that will make you laugh, cry, and feel hopeful.