Books

Wonder

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer

Auggie Pullman is intelligent, funny and immensely lovable. There’s just one thing. Before people can see Auggie, they see his face. Disfigured, droopy eyed, with a hearing aid. What is it about humans that makes us uncomfortable around someone who looks different? Yet, despite the odds, Auggie’s indomitable spirit prevails and like everyone else in the book, you can’t help but fall in love with him.

“Your deeds are your monuments.”— Inscription on an Egyptian tomb

The story is told from the perspective of various characters and how they interact with Auggie. What is it like growing up with a little brother who looks like him? What does it feel like to leave the security of home to go to school for the first time? At home, Auggie is normal. He plays games, does homework and throws tantrums like any other child. At school, he must learn to deal with being different and his classmates must learn to see past his face.

I think the reason that Auggie’s story resonates with us is because so many of us feel like him, even though we may not look like him on the outside. This book is for the days that you feel different, defeated, betrayed, cajoled, loved, befriended. He goes through a roller-coaster school year and you make the journey with him. Along the way, you believe that the sun will shine again, no matter what. The sense of willful optimism pervades the book and is articulated in Mr. Browne’s precepts, like this one:

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” —John Wesley’s Rule

I had my preteen sister read this book. I wondered how it might be received since it was a departure from her usual fare of Harry Potter or Divergent. As usual, she never ceases to amaze me. Not only did she race through the book faster than I, she showed a remarkable maturity and acceptance of his tale. I hadn’t expected a children’s book to be one of my favourites this year; this one is going to be a permanent fixture on that list.

“Just follow the day and reach for the sun!” —The Polyphonic Spree

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