A few weeks ago, I read RJ Palacio’s debut novel,Wonder. (Thanks for the recommendation, Becky). For a week or two, I recommended this book to everyone I talked to. I even ordered a copy for my grandmother. It is a raw and fantastic story about a ten year old boy named Auggie Pullman. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity, and like most kids his age, craves a normal life.
Wonder takes place during Auggie’s fifth grade year, which is his first at public school, and in junior high, no less. The book is written for a middle school audience, but I think that the story has pretty universal appeal. Told from his point of view most of the time, Auggie’s sister Via, his friend Summer, a child from school, and others also get a chance to narrate. I was actually surprised how well this story telling method worked–the transition is pretty seamless.
Palacio calls her story “a meditation on kindness.” I think it is safe to say that the story will make you laugh, will make you cry (perhaps a lot), and will make you want to be a better person. I’ve thought a lot about kindness and goodness, especially in the wake of the horrific events in Boston last week (and that seem to happen far too frequently all over the world)–I think the message of this book is timely and one the world needs to hear.
Near the end of the story, Mr. Tushman, Auggie’s principal, makes a moving speech. He says, in part, “If every single 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, . . . someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God. . . . or whatever politically correct spiritual representation of universal goodness you happen to believe in.”
Do you have a must read book on your list? I’d love to hear about it.