Wonder, by RJ Palacio
I don’t remember when I first read this book. All I remember is reading it again and again, at least five to six times each year, and sometimes rereading the book back-to-back and never getting bored. It was another one of those books my father asked me to read hoping to improve my reading habits. As much as I hate to say this, parents do know best (sometimes) which can clearly be seen by my obsessive reading of ‘Wonder’. It hadn’t seemed like my type of book at the start specifically because it sounded a little sad, and knowing how emotional I can get at times, I tend to stay away from such books.
‘Wonder’ is a book revolving around the life of a ten-year-old boy, August Pullman, with a severe genetic condition that left his face deformed and also lead to a large number of health issues. After undergoing 27 surgeries he was finally able to function like others around him, but that didn’t necessarily mean his life got any easier. However, with the combined love of his parents along with his elder sister Via, and the family dog Daisy, he learnt to enjoy the simple pleasures life had to offer. This changed when his parents decided to enroll him in middle school. Having been home-schooled since childhood, he didn’t welcome the idea of being thrust into the cruel world of school.
The rest of the book goes on to describe Auggie’s journey through fifth grade, how he makes friends, deals with the bullying of his fellow mates, all the while learning important lessons on the way. Wonder is the epitome of simplicity. From the character sketches to the emotions put across, each of them is straightforward without any unnecessary complications. This is what makes Wonder so beautiful.
To capture the innocence, the thoughts, and actions of a ten-year-old child accurately is hard. On top of that to not complicate the emotions by adding her own interpretations is something I haven’t seen many authors be able to accomplish. Every word said by each character is so straightforward, it makes empathizing with the characters easier. Moreover, she has opted for a first-person point of view, dividing the book into various sections, each section covering the story from the point of view of a different character. The transition in point of view is seamless and does not disrupt the continuity of the story while giving you a glimpse into the character’s head. She has ensured that enough humour is sprinkled into the book to keep it an altogether enjoyable read.
The most refreshing part of the book continues to be August Pullman himself. His maturity is contrasted well with the innate childishness of a ten-year-old and with his natural ability of humour he worms his way into the hearts of every reader. Till date I haven’t come across a book quite like this one and it is a productive read for aspiring writers and is a great hit amongst children. In 2017, the book was turned into a movie, which was well-made and was mostly true to the book.
© 2021, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.