Have you ever read a book so inspiring that you just wanted to become a better person after having read it? That novel, for me this summer, is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s a young adult novel about a ten year-old boy, Auggie, whose face is disfigured, and he’s entering a traditional school setting for the first time as a fifth grader. It’s about his journey and the journey of those who surround him– ranging from his staunchest supporters to the class bullies. It’s about not judging someone by his appearance, but it’s so much more than that. Palacio manages to touch upon the core of humanity, so any one can make a connection to this book. It’s about kindness and decency, and the message is we reap what we sow and that we can change; we can all be better people.
Wonder was recommended to me by a colleague and friend. I put it off for a while because she described it to be a kid book– we happened upon the conversation when we were talking about how children’s literature can be so poignant, even for adults. Pushing her suggestion in the back of my mind, it resurfaced this summer when I so desperately needed something uplifting. I love the way we choose books, sometimes, that we need to read– as they are relevant to a particular stage or experience. Wonder fulfilled that need for me. I read it, curled up on the couch on a rainy day during our Cape Cod vacation. While others fled to find something to do– some went to the mall, some went fishing– I just wanted to read this book. And I did– cover to cover– in one day. While, admittedly, I sobbed so much at the end that I needed to keep wiping at my tears because the words became blurred on the page, I really felt, in that moment that Wonder changed me somehow.
I read all the bonus features at the end of the book… notes about the allusions, commonly asked questions, author interview…
What struck me most about the author interview is something I can so wholly identify with as a writer. Palacio said that her first reader of this book gave her some harsh criticism which caused her to re-think her writing. But her husband affirmed that she should believe in herself and her story– that someone else would believe in it too!
So, this book provided an awakening, or perhaps, reaffirmation, for me, not to mention it was simply a joy to read. It’s a book I want every one to read. Every single person. Teachers and students, parents and children… people should read it together and talk about it. People should pass this book on. It’s a book for sharing.
…From the novel:
A link to R.J. Palacio’s Website:
The precepts (rules to live by)
- “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” —Dr. Wayne Dyer
- “Your deeds are your monuments.” —Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb
- “Have no friends not equal to yourself.” —Confucius
- “Fortune favors the bold.” —Virgil
- “No man is an island, entire of itself.” —John Donne
- “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” —James Thurber
- “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” —Blaise Pascal
- “What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.” —Sappho
- “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
- “Just follow the day and reach for the sun.” —The Polyphonic Spree
- “Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world.” —Auggie Pullman
A link to my favorite quotes … Goodreads
If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts about it, too?