Wonder tells the story of August Pullman, a boy who was born with a facial deformity. He has a severe form of Treacher-Collins syndrome which makes him practically an alien to everybody, except to his family. Because of his deformity, August has to undergo countless of operations to reconstruct his face which makes him unable to attend school so he is homeschooled instead. However, when August turns 10, and when most of his major operations were already behind him, his parents have decided it's time for him to take up school. That’s when August's real story begins.
“Hey, the truth is, if a Wookiee started going to the school all of a sudden, I'd be curious, I'd probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I'd probably whisper to them: Hey, there's the Wookiee. And if the Wookiee caught me saying that, he'd know I wasn't trying to be mean. I was just pointing out the fact that he's a Wookiee.”
Wonder is told from multiple perspectives: August’s, Via’s, Summer’s, Jack’s, Justin’s and Miranda’s. While it should have bothered me, the fact is it didn’t. Multiple perspectives worked fine for this book. In fact, I think the book warrants it. I believe multiple perspectives add value to this book; it’s stimulating to take a peek what everybody has been feeling, thinking and acting around August.
The book discusses about bullying but that’s expected. What’s great about this book is it makes a point to highlight the fact that a child’s attitude is a reflection of his/her parents’. It’s true, isn't it? Children are like little ambassadors to their parents. Whatever the parents believe will find its way to their children one way or another. Most of the time, a great family happens when parents take their children education seriously and that includes everything. And I mean everything; it isn’t just about academic matters alone.
August’s parents are the best evidence of how unconditional love is done.
“Do people look the same when they go to heaven, mommy?"
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"Then how do people recognize each other?"
"I don't know, sweetie. They just feel it. You don't need your eyes to love, right?”
“Thank you, Auggie,” she answered softly.
“For everything you’ve given,’ she said. “For coming into our lives. For being you.”
Julian’s parents, on the other hand, explain why some children turn out as a bully. It can’t be just peer influence alone; it has to come somewhere with much greater influence and what would that be if not the family institution itself?
“I heard that Julian’s mom actually Photoshopped August’s face out of the class picture when she got it. She gave a copy to a couple of other moms.”
There are also other parents who are trying very hard to make a world better living for a boy like August. Like Jack’s parents.
“No!” said Jamie, “it was from seeing that kid! When I saw him, I was like, ‘Ahhh!” and I ran away…”
“Wait a minute,” said Mom, getting serious. “Did you do that in front of him?”
“I couldn’t help it!” said Jamie, kind of whining.
“Of course you could help it!” Mom scolded. “Guys, I have to tell you, I’m really disappointed by what I’m hearing here.” And she looked like how she sounded. “I mean, honestly, he’s just a little boy –just like you! Can you imagine how he felt to see you running away from him, Jamie screaming?”
Some people feel that this book is a tad too unrealistic. Everything is too neat and tidy; even some of the conflicts are a little too soft which is a far cry from real life. Their points couldn’t have rung any truer. The world IS harsh. The real life is unsympathetic towards the weak, the ugly, the poor, the alone etc. Because I feel our world is already filled with too much hate, it is the more the reason why the book should have ended the way it ended – on a happy note. People are entitled to happy endings. People deserve to be reminded that this world doesn’t necessarily have to be the way it is provided that we are willing to change - be kind if we do not and kinder if we already are.
“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
Wonder is an uplifting read. It will make you smile, it will make you cry, it will make you tense with desperation and most of all, it will make you humble. This is a book that will leave your insides warm and fuzzy. A recommended read for all.