"You Can't blend in
Book title: Wonder
The reader is never fully informed about just how deformed August's face must be, but it clearly must be quite a sight to behold if children cross the streets to get away from him, and he spent two years of his childhood hiding it behind a football helmet. With numerous surgeries ever since he was born to make him look somewhat human, August has had quite an ordeal already, but now he's facing something even scarier.
Now August is ready to go to public school, ugly face or not. With exposure to additional turmoil, mean kids and the inability to hide any longer, Auggie must find out who are his real friends and find his own way through this new life.
Now made into a major movie, the world knows about Wonder, so I was rather late to the party, I must admit. I particularly enjoyed Wonder because it doesn't fit into the "sick lit" genre in any way, but is simply about a special child dealing with ordinary problems and life.
As the story is not only from his perspective, but also from his teenage sister Via's, her boyfriend Justin's and some others. By opting to do that, Palacio not only manages to share the attention August is getting, but also points out that the problems August is facing are pretty normal ones. He is in no way special regarding the thoughts that keep him up at night, his fears and his need to be included into a group.
Similarly, when the perspective blends over to Via or her boyfriend Justin, we see that their problems, too, are very similar to August's, despite lacking a deformed face and looking "normal". The fear of abandonment, exclusion, loneliness, and the question what it all means follows each of the children and teens as they grow up, which makes this a unique ride for the reader.
Another feature I immensely enjoyed about reading Wonder, and which has influenced my writing ever since, is that it is simply a story. I have recently read so many books and texts where I felt the writers wanted to force as many "pretty" words on the page as possible. In Wonder, there is actually little detailed description, it is very dialogue-driven and therefore fast-paced, also because some of the chapters are only one or two pages long.
People who have been deterred of "sick lit" by works like The Fault in Our Stars of similar books can rest assured that such an atmosphere is not dominant in Wonder, because his illness is only the "MacGuffin" as it were. A MacGuffin is an object or occurrence that is needed to drive the plot along, without being the actual main part of the story. I feel his deformity is the MacGuffin to tell the story, but in its essence we read about a 10-year old boy whose simply struggling with growing up and coping with school - as so many children do.
This book was a heartfelt story without unnecessary emotion-dripping that opened my heart and made me miss my childhood at some points, while praying inwardly I am well over it in other places.
One word description: Heartwarming.
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