Tuesday, 26 August 2014


"maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. the universe takes care of all its birds."  Part Five - Justin

Books move something in me that movies or music have never been able to. When i am reading a good story, I am completely absorbed in it, so deeply that my own world seems to simply fade into background noise. Sometimes, even hours after I've stopped reading, I catch myself feeling or thinking like one of the characters, even though these thoughts and feelings don't fit my actual situation. Books give me the ability to shut of my brain and be fully immersed in an activity, which is a state I can almost never achieve. However, there are only few books which have given me this complete sense of being in a whole other universe and affected my emotions even past the point of pressing the off-button on my kindle. The Divergent series, The Rosie Project, The Universe versus Alex Woods, Zutritt Verboten (a german children's book) and now, Wonder.

You can't blend in when you were born to stand out. 
My Name is August. 
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."  
- RJ Palacio

August is 10 years old when his parents think it is time for him to go to a normal school. Born with a facial abnormality which demanded several surgeries, August had been home-schooled by his mother until that point and the prospect of going to a place with hundreds of other kids doesn't seem very appealing to him. Eventually though he decides to go anyways, overcoming his fear of how people are going to react to seeing him. The books describes his first year at school and how it affects himself and the people around him from 6 different point of views: his own and those of 5 other children who are each connected to August in their own way.

Throughout the whole story, you never get a clear description of what August's face exactly looks like. And while the nosy part of me would have needed an exact drawing or photograph to be satisfied, in the end it didn't matter. It wasn't about his appearance but how he and others choose to live with it. This story doesn't end with a miraculous surgery which will "repair" his face and they will live happily ever after. It is much more insightful than that.

Even though the book is written out of children's perspective, it isn't childish. It is intelligent, witty, moving and most of all: it feels real. So real that, with each change of narrator your whole position shifts. You might have felt nothing but sympathy, even pity for August's situation but one page into the next part and all of a sudden, things don't seem so black and white anymore.
It is her ability to completely alter her style of writing with every different narrator that I admire most about RJ Palacio. While yes, she can only try to imitate and imagine the way a child thinks, it doesn't feel that way when you read through the book. She created 6 completely different characters, each special in their own way, while avoiding to make them seem too perfect, evil or nice to be true.

This book is mainly about a kid who seems to have had the whole universe turned against him at birth and yet, the author manages to make me as a reader feel about a 100 different emotions while reading her story, only one of them being pity. If you read anything next month, let it be this book, even if you blieve children's books are only for children (you can always pretend it's your nephew/daughter/brother/best friend's sister's son's).

"I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives." - August Pullman

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