Sunday, July 21, 2013
Wild @ Heart with YA Lit
Each month, I choose a different young adult novel to read for a number of reasons. One is that I like to keep up with the type of books my children and students are reading. Another is that reading young adult literature reminds me of the trials and tribulations of growing up. Reading YA literature keeps me wild at heart.
There is so much I enjoyed about Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I don't know where to begin. As a children's novel, there is much to be learned by any child who reads it. The lessons in the story cannot be missed and should linger to all who read it. As an adult reading this book, it is a great reminder of the awkward middle school years, somewhere in between being a child, completely dependent on his/her parents, and being a more independent teen.
Wonder is about a young boy named August entering the fifth grade. He is completely average in most ways. He loves to watch television, is a huge Star Wars fan, loves to play his Xbox. Interestingly though, he is also going to school for the first time in his entire life. You see, he's been home-schooled his entire life in order to protect him from humiliating and degrading leers and jabs by other children. August, unfortunately, was born with a severe cranial-facial abnormality, one of such rare case that there was only a one in four million chance that he would get it. His face is so deformed that he won't even try to explain what he looks like and spent two years of his life wearing an astronaut helmet, hiding his face from public view. However, because this novel is told from the perspective of August, his sister, and a few other students and family friends, as we progress through the novel, we begin to get a more accurate picture of his facial traits. August is not a handsome boy.
Because August and his parents decide that it is time for him to go to school and try to adjust to having a more well-rounded education, he must face ridicule and bullying from other students. At times, this is a terrifying and heart-breaking task for August. One student actually runs away screaming and crying after seeing him for the first time. However, as time moves on, August makes friends with a few students that step forward in the darkest moments of August's fifth grade year with deep kindness, helping, protecting, and befriending him.
Wonder is absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it to all. It is well-written and filled with messages to last a lifetime. Read it for yourself. Read it with your children. Read it to your class. This book will lead to thoughtful discussions about what it means to be a kind person and a good friend.
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