I have just finished reading Wonder by R.J.Palacio for the second time and I still said “WOW” at the end. I’m not going to give you a book review, you have Amazon for that, but I will say that if you have never read it, regardless of the genre you usually enjoy, I can promise you won’t be disappointed. You see, at the core of the book is a message of kindness and to be honest, even though the story might not be your ‘thing’ if kindness isn’t then there really is some work to be done on you my friend.
Everyone I know who has read it, raves about it. It touches them in a beautiful way but it touched me on a whole different level.
Why it touched me
It touched me in a real way. You see, Harry is my very own Wonder and I am the Mum trying desperately to let him grown up but terrified of doing so at the same time. Fearful of people’s reactions to him (based on past experiences) and incredibly sad that people judge him before they have the chance to meet him. He melts the heart of everyone who gets to know the boy behind the face but so many people are rushing through life preferring to judge people with their eyes instead of their hearts. I wish everyone could see my boy, and other Wonders, with their ‘heart goggles’ on. Just once would be enough.
One story. Many views
And then there’s the view from his sister’s perspective. This fictitious story made me think about my own real life tale and how Oliver must, at times, feel overlooked. Of the nights that he wants me to lie with him on the bed for a minute but Harry is downstairs so I won’t. The days when he wants to nip into town to buy something with his pocket money but we can’t because a trip anywhere near home bargains results in Harry having a melt down and leaves both him and me in a sweaty mess. The cinema visits and meals out we have a few times a year when it’s just us while Harry is in the school holiday club so that Oliver can have the undivided attention he deserves. Does he ever feel like he takes second place? That his needs and wishes are relegated below Harrys? I truly hope not but I wonder whether that is an inevitable part of sibling life, knowing that the life your brother or sister would never have chosen has to, inevitably and from time to time be the focus of your attention.
My own Wonder
One major difference between Harry and Auggie is that Auggie is aware of the stares and the whispers. He feels the pain of being different whereas Harry is oblivious but this is a double-edged sword. It’s true that Harry is free from the sadness that comes with the struggle to be accepted. But at the same time, he doesn’t have the capacity to build resilience, experience friendships, enjoy the lows of a bad day and the elation of knowing that he is amazing regardless of what people think. Some days I feel like it’s a blessing that he lacks the ‘typical’ awareness. Other days it makes me sad. As much as I don’t want him to experience sadness and loneliness I do want him to know the joy of overcoming adversity, of friendships and love. Of Wonder.
Pass the tissues
When I cried at the end of Wonder, I cried for Auggie who had no idea just how extraordinarily amazing he was, for his parents who battled their own instinct to protect him from a world which isn’t always an accepting one and chose to help him find his own way anyway, for his sister who sometimes felt embarrassed but always dearly loved her little brother, for the friends who eventually saw the boy behind the syndrome.
So much of Wonder is similar to our own life. And so, I also cried for my own boy who may never know how extraordinarily amazing he is, for myself who wants to protect my eternal boy and worries about what will happen to him when I’m gone. For Oliver who loves his brother fiercely and yet still feels frustrated, lonely and angry towards the Autism that robbed him of his best friend. God help me when the film is released in November. My visit will be sponsored by Kleenex for sure!
The difference between a good book and a great book!
A good book really makes you think about your own life. A great book helps you see where you need to make some changes to your life. So, I resolved that I will indeed lie with Oliver on occasions, that I will stop asking him how his brother is on the days he calls me from his Dads so that I make sure our conversation is centered on him and for the next few nights I am going to turn the TV off and cuddle both of my boys on the sofa and read to them.
I’m going to read Wonder.