I was watching New Girl the other night. (You know that new sitcom, starring Zooey Deschanel?) In this particular episode, Jess, the main character, was trying to convince her fellow roommate, Nick, that people can be kind if you give them the chance. It was probably one of the show’s best episodes so far. Watching Jess and Nick stubbornly argue up to the end about whether people tend to have more kind intentions than unkind ones was interesting and very funny. After the episode, I decided to get back to reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio to continue this theme of kindness that seemed to take over my night. You see, I’ve been a rather pessimistic person. While I am nice to others, I don’t expect kindness back from them. Basically, I am Nick, the one doubting everyone’s good intentions.
After watching that episode and finishing Wonder, I realized how sad my doubt was. Wonder is the story of a boy, August, living with a facial deformity. To get an idea of how bad it is, August says:
“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
This deformity has stopped him from ever attending a real school and living life like a normal fifth grader. Well, the day has come for him to start going to school. Entering middle school is terrifying, but for someone like August it goes beyond that. Kids can be cruel. Yet, with the support of his loving family, August gathers up his courage and decides to go anyway. The story covers all the ups-and-downs of Auggie’s first year of middle school in his perspective and the perspectives of his sister, friends, and other important people in Auggie’s life.
Auggie’s story is poignant. You can’t help but to smile when he’s happy and shed a tear when he’s sad. It’s impossible to not adore him. One of things that I loved was the author’s decision to also include other characters’ perspectives. Several parts make up this book, with different characters weighing in on Auggie and their own life situations. It was effective in the way that it showed both the bad and good of life. One perspective I immediately identified with was Via’s, Auggie’s older sister. As an older sister myself, I understood exactly how Via felt. I may not have a younger brother like Auggie, but the author definitely nailed that brother-sister dynamic so well. The situations in this story are realistic. Every exchange seems to be only a few degrees different from something I’ve experienced. Its realism allowed me to also reflect on my life, particularly my childhood. There were many moments, where I felt ashamed of doing or thinking something like Jack and Via were. There were also times I felt like Auggie felt.
Simply, Wonder makes you believe in better world. A world where there are such brave souls like Auggie and such kind ones that accept him. It’s important to be reminded of this from time to time. That’s why you should pick up this book when it comes out on Valentine’s Day. In regards to my pessimism, it’s no surprise that I’ve always felt a bit bitter about Valentine’s Day. Yeah, the Hallmark holiday capitalizes on romantic love. But you know what? There are other kinds of love that are just as important: the love you have for your family and friends. Auggie reminded me of that. And because of Wonder, I have no qualms spending this Valentine’s Day with my wonderful family, sharing a box of chocolates and shedding some tears over a viewing of Titanic.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Wonder hits bookstores on February 14th. Support our site, and purchase the book from our TYF Store here!
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf for Young Readers (February 14, 2012)
Length: 320 pages, Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Children, Fiction, Family, Social Issues
Completed: February 2012