Saturday, December 03, 2016

Wonder and Auggie & Me

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 Adults rate the school years as among the best, but growing up is bitter sweet and even terrifying in part- the need to belong, fit it, be loved, grow. 

It is the first year of schooling for a hitherto home-schooled and isolated ten year old boy -Auggie, with a severely disfigured face. He is courageous and humorous, with an immensely supportive family and a couple of very good friends. Understandably, Auggie suffers from occasional self doubt/ pity despite all of this.

The narrative moves as we see his journey -from home schooling to school, from being protected to facing the world, from revulsion and rejection to acceptance- through six different points of view- Auggie's own, Via’s (his older sister), Justin’s (Via’s boyfriend), Jack (Auggie’s BFF), Summer ( Auggie’s good friend) and Miranda (Via’s friend). Among the most thought provoking characters we meet is Mr Browne, Auggie's teacher who offers life gems through precepts.Via, his sister's take is the most gripping as she is full of sisterly love and generosity but also feels a growing resentment about being the sibling who always has to give in/ make way.

The only minor flaws-  the award to Auggie was unnecessary drama, the use of 'Dude' could have been controlled. I found the end too simplistic and patronizing even, but the resident 10 year old loved the book and would not hear any of my complaints against it.

Wonder 'continues' in this sequel/ companion book- Auggie & me- with three perspectives. Auggie is not given as much space as the three narrators.

You learn what triggers Auggie's enemy/bully Julian's actions. Though well unraveled, Julian's change of heart is too quick and far fetched in what is otherwise a plausible series.

The story with Charlotte, Auggie’s welcome buddy, showcases tween girls in a realistic manner, with the background of a dance performance and how friendships form and loyalty grows, even through the twists that come along. 

Christopher’s chapter is about him and a music band. There is a tough decision for Chris to make and this character building situation is a good talk point with children. This story has the maximum snippets of Auggie's younger self and how the friendship evolves over time and distance. 

Wonder is humourous, moving and life affirming. Along the way, it emphasizes the need for us to be a bit more considerate and sensitive to make this world kinder place.

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