Wonder, by RJ Palacio, well, what can I say about this book?
I first read this book when I was around eight or nine years of age, this was after it had been introduced to me by Changing Faces. I read it on my own and parts of it to my mum. It had me in tears, and it had me laughing out loud. I felt all the pain that August was going through, it was as if my life so far had been portrayed through this book.
It is a heart-warming and thought-provoking book, and I think that all schools should have it on their syllabus. It looks at how hurtful comments can really affect individuals, and questions whether the bullies are really aware of what they are doing. It also examines that parents are there for us, but they can’t be there all the time, and we all have to face the big wide world on our own at some point. But at what cost? It gives people an insight to what it might be like living with a visible difference, and how we should all be kinder to each other.
When I first read the book, I couldn’t believe how close to my life it felt. My mum thought the same. Comments that have been made, other people’s reactions, bullies, family life, and how to look at life in an optimistic way. Both myself and Auggie had lots of operations, but we will never look ‘normal’, this helped me accept this.
This book opens up a world that is normally swept under the carpet. This book brings it all to the surface, so people can start to talk about what we try to shy away from. People who look visibly different shouldn’t hide away. Be bold and shine bright.
I’ve got a couple of quotes from the book and wanted to share them with you. The first, being: “Why blend in when you are born to stand out.” Also, “When given a choice between being right or kind, choose kind.” One of my favourites is:
When the book was made into a film, as part of my work with Changing Faces, I was so lucky to be able to meet the boy, Jacob Tremblay, who played Auggie in the movie, as well as some of the other stars and the author, RJ Palacio. It was such an incredible day.
I spoke a little to Jacob about what I had been through and how close to home it was, and how he was amazing. He told me ‘You’re a real tough cookie’. I talked to RJ Palacio about how she came to write Wonder. She told me that it was from an experience at an ice-cream parlour with her own child, who cried at someone who looked different. So, she did a lot of research and wrote the book. I also told her that the book was like it had been written about my life, even down to some specific hurtful comments…
This book helped me to accept myself for me, along with the help and support from the Changing Faces team. I even made a video to show my class about what my life had entailed, how I have had to undergo many surgeries and appointments, and then having to put up with hurtful comments at school and stares when out and about. They hadn’t understood until this point. But I had a better school life from then on.
I suggest that everyone should read this book at some point in their lives – ideally at school, the earlier the better so children can learn from it! If they did, I think there might be more understanding in the world, and hopefully children and adults might think twice before saying a hurtful comment.
If you are reading Wonder and aren’t sure if it is a book for you, I urge you to think again, carry on! It is bold and brilliant, and the author has created something truly inspirational. Without giving too much away, yes, there’s lots of sadness in this book, but the overall sense of love and goodness that we all have within ourselves leaves you infused with a greater appreciation for life. Even if you are not a big reader, give it a go, you might surprise yourself.