R. J. Palacio’s “Wonder” is one of those rare books that sensitively discusses childhood insecurities without any cynicism or dampening the mood of the reader. “Wonder” is a witty, intelligent book that reinforced my trust in goodness in people and the little joys of life.
August Pullman is a smart and a funny ten year old who won me over through the course of his journey of complicated friendships, family, personal insecurities and his eventual triumph over his fears.
Although Auggie holds his head high in most parts of the story, I’m not sure if I can say the same about myself. My emotions oscillated between sadness and profound joy and also terrible anger at what adults and sometimes other kids inflicted upon Auggie. It is unsurprising to see how adults who are caught up in their own narrow world often pass on their narrow mindedness to their children and thus create a vicious cycle of meanness that is so cruel to people who are slightly different than what we perceive as “normal” .
“Wonder” is primarily narrated from Auggie’s perspective but it also has six other voices to compliment to it for the readers to understand Auggie’s life a little better. In an usual scenario, six voices would have been one too many for the narration of a middle grade book but in “Wonder”, I immensely enjoyed the six different voices that gave me a view into their lives and their ways of thinking. RJ Palacio with her multiple narrations probably wanted to put forth just one simple thought – never judge a person without knowing their side of the story. The clarity with which all the voices have been handled is indeed commendable.
A book like “Wonder” is only too rare to stumble upon and I’m pretty sure I’m going to force this book into people’s faces so that their life changes for the better. Not even a single sentence is dull and every page is power packed with gripping emotions. We are used to gore and cruelty but oh, how refreshing it was to be surprised with kindness. RJ Palacio’s target audience for this book are mainly young adults. But I’d urge every adult to read this book because all of us need to revisit the innate ability of compassion, empathy and love that all is are blessed with. In August Pullman’s words, “be kinder than is necessary. Because it is not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed”. Grab a copy and restore your faith in humanity!