Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Release date: 15 February 2012
Rating: 10/10

If I found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and doing that look-away thing. Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.

So when I was in my mum’s stomach, no one had any idea I would come out looking the way I look. Mom had had Via four years before and that had been such a “walk in the park” (Mom’s expression) that there was no reason to run any special tests. About two months before I was born, the doctors realized there was something wrong with my face, but they didn’t really think it was going to that bad. They told Mom and Dad that I had a cleft palate and some other stuff going on. They called it “small anomalies”.

Looks like I don’t have to write a book anymore, because this is the one I wanted to write.

Mom is beautiful, by the way. And Dad is handsome. Via is pretty. In case you were wondering.
While she was talking, I noticed Julian staring at me out of the corner of his eye. This is something I see people do a lot with me. They think I don’t know they’re staring, but I can tell from the way their heads are tilted.
She only hesitated for a millionth of a second, but I could tell the moment she saw me. Like I said: I’m used to it by now.
Mom always had this habit of asking me how something felt on a scale of one to ten. It started after I had my jaw surgery, when I couldn’t talk because my mouth was wired shut. They had taken a piece of bone from my hip bone to insert into my chin to make it look more normal, so I was hurting in a lot of places.
I hate the way I eat. I know how weird it looks. I had a surgery to fix my cleft palate when I was a baby and then a second cleft surgery when I was four, but I still have a hole in the roof of my mouth.
Rat boy. Freak. Monster. Freddy Krueger. E.T. Gross-out. Lizard face. Mutant. I know the names they call me. I’ve been in enough playgrounds to know kids can be mean. I know, I know, I know.
During every moment of reading Wonder, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, wanted to cry, felt significant amounts of anger at strangers, and happier than I have ever been purely for a book’s existence. The part where August gets hearing aids is my favourite part of the whole story.

 How can I describe what I heard when the doctor turned on my hearing aids? Or what I didn’t hear? It’s too hard to think of words. The ocean just wasn’t living in my head anymore. It was gone. I could hear sounds like shiny lights in my brain. It was like when you’re in a room where one of the lightbulbs on the ceiling isn’t working, but you don’t realise how dark it is until someone changes the lightbulb and you’re like, whoa, it’s so bright in here! I don’t know if there’s a word that means the same as “bright” in terms of hearing, but I wish I knew one, because my ears were hearing brightly now.

Quoting is the only way I can convey why this book means what it now does to me. This is the book I wanted when I was 12-15 years old. To feel less alone. To feel like I wasn’t the only one who was going through these things.

Everyone, of all ages, should read this book, because everyone's life would be improved for having known August Pullman.

Thank you, R.J., for writing Wonder for all children that have ever been born with birth defects and/or craniofacial syndromes. And thank you to Natalie, for making sure I knew about August - I love you for it. He really is a wonder.

“Mom? Am I always going to have to worry about jerks like that?” I asked. “Like when I grow up, is it always going to be like this?”