January 23, 2013
More than one person recommended this novel to me, and I must say this: those people who recommended this book failed to express to me how much I'd find myself in need of a few tissues at the end. R.J. Palacio's Wonder recounts the story of August, a 10-year-old boy who has a facial deformity, and who starts going to real school at middle-school age when everyone first starts middle school.
His parents' reasoning, more or less, is that quite a lot of kids will be new.
But August's facial deformity is pretty severe, and despite his age, his parents baby him. And he lets them. He's used to being the center of attention; having surgeries to construct and reconstruct his face has caused that. His older sister Via has never showed any inkling of resentment.
The story of August acclimating to school--that era of school when kids are often, as I recall, truly terrible--is both happy and sad, as he finds friends, as people inevitably make fun of him, and as he and everyone else have to come to terms with themselves.
Told through multiple perspectives (including August, his friends, his sister, his sister's boyfriend, his sister's friend-but-not-friend anymore), this book paints a clear picture of how people react to August. And how August can't help struggling a little bit.
As is ever the way, there are some about-faces from mean kids to nice kids. Some mean kids who never stop being mean, and whose parents prove as atrocious as their children. It's a nice tidy little portrayal of how I'd like to think people generally are: hesitant sometimes, cruel sometimes, but also sometimes kind. Also sometimes ready to rise to the occasion.
Sniffling is inevitable, and as I said...I required tissues.