If there was one book I wish I had with me when I was in grade 5, this book would be it. Usually, I am not a big fan of coming-of-age stories. I always figured I read a book to get away from real life, why would I read about all of life's ups and downs just to throw me back down to reality? I was forced for read Alice, I Think back in grade 9 and I still get shivers down my spine when I think about it. I could never connect with Alice and that was the book's ultimate downfall.
August Pullman, however, was so relatable. Surely most of us don't have it as bad as August but we've all had our own insecurities. Every glance a person directs your way can seem like an x-ray, seeing deep within to where your insecurities are hiding. We've all had days where we want to stay in bed forever and ever so we never had to face the world ever again. R. J. Palacio was able to put words to emotions we've all felt into words simple enough for middle graders. And it wasn't just August's story that resonated with me. From Via and Miranda's struggles to fit into high school to Jack and Summer's friendship with August, I have all felt those emotions and magically, their stories all built on to August's. And often times, I felt blindsided by some of these kids' stories because rarely do you get to see the perspectives of supporting characters. By only seeing one perspective, you can often jump to conclusion and develop a dislike for a certain character or two Jack and Miranda. But then, hearing from their side changes everything. I love it when multiple perspectives intertwine so well together; it's rare for it to be done so well, let alone in the simplistic, easy-to-read manner of Wonder.
Special shoutouts to Auggie's parents, Isabel and Nate, for being the absolute best parents (other than my own, of course). They are like the parents every child wish they had. Not only were they caring, funny and strong, they knew their kids so well. They knew when to let things go, when to bring things up and when their kids needed love. Although their perspectives were never told, you know there were lots going on in their heads; telling their stories would require an entirely separate book.
And lastly, I want to talk about Auggie. He is brave, smart, funny and definitely a wonder. Out of everyone's coming of age story, I loved his the most. Not only is it because he had to put up with much more, but because him alone was able to change other people for the better. When I look back, I realized everyone who has grown throughout the book came into contact with August in some shape or form. It really brings it home that all you need is to get to know a person, no matter what your initial judgement is. You might be surprised at how much this person changes you.
R. J. Palacio also has a lot of cool supplementary info on her website like FAQs and some interesting notes.
I absolutely adored this book and I would recommend it to everyone. Yes, I'm pointing at you, Reader, to give this book a chance. You might be surprised at how much this book changes you.
Food for thoughts (and I also loved all of the quotes in between different perspectives):
MR. BROWNE’S PRECEPTS
SEPTEMBER When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. —Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
OCTOBER Your deeds are your monuments. —inscription on an Egyptian tomb
NOVEMBER Have no friends not equal to yourself. —Confucius
DECEMBER Audentes fortuna iuvat. (Fortune favors the bold.) —Virgil
JANUARY No man is an island, entire of itself. —John Donne
FEBRUARY It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. —James Thurber
MARCH Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much. —Blaise Pascal
APRIL What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful. —Sappho
MAY Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as you ever can. —John Wesley’s Rule
JUNE Just follow the day and reach for the sun! —The Polyphonic Spree, “Light and Day”
and most of all:
AUGUST PULLMAN’S PRECEPT Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world. —Auggie