Saturday, 30 December 2017

Exploring Children's Literature #2 - Wonder by R.J. Palacio


I’ve really started to pick back up and get back on track with my blogging towards the end of the year so I thought I’d round up the year with a review of my most recent read: Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I thought I’d already read this one, having made my way through quite a few YA fiction contributions, but I had a bit of a surprise when I started ‘re-reading’ my copy so I could go and see the film and found that it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. That said, I really enjoyed reading Wonder and am happy to have added it to my list of books I’ve enjoyed over the course of 2017.

Wonder is a story about a young boy who just doesn’t fit in with the rest of his peers through absolutely no fault of his own. August, or Auggie as he is affectionately referred to as, has a genetic condition that means his face is deformed and countless surgeries haven’t been able to rectify his difficulties. He lives his life just as any other child his age does, except for the fact he can’t walk down the street without people staring and pointing and acknowledging his every insecurity. His parents decide that, at the ripe old age of 10, it is time for Auggie to go to a ‘real school’ and stop his homeschooling, enrolling him in the local private school. He’s told to ‘try it out’ and if he doesn’t like it, he can stop. But it’s really not as simple as that.

Wonder is heartwarming and saddening in equal breaths. It tells the tale of someone who was born to be different finally being allowed to fit in but it also raises the question of why life and people are so fixated on appearance over actual, genuine human qualities. Auggie, a caring, thoughtful and funny child is isolated because he doesn’t LOOK the way that society expects him to and Palacio highlights this issue in a thoughtful and thought provoking way. It highlights how we are quick to judge before we get to know someone and is inspiring in the sense that the good qualities in people are exemplified.

I loved the flip between characters’ perspectives, particularly the section focusing on August’s sister, Via. It was interesting to hear the story from the perspective of the character who was so loving and so caring towards her brother, and yet acknowledge that it’s natural to feel resentful towards people who you actually love. The section from Summer, one of August’s friends perspectives was equally as lovely- when asked why she was friends with August, she merely explains how she was taught to be kind and that August was funny and caring. No ulterior motive, no nastiness underlying her intentions, just pure and innocent kindness.

I’d definitely recommend that this book is taught within UKS2 in schools- the language is very accessible and the story definitely appeals to all types of backgrounds. Even as an adult, I enjoyed the story and I can’t wait to go and see the film after New Year with a good friend of mine!

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