Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Wonder by RJ Palacio

You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all? -Goodreads

I don't really know how to review this book. This book that made me feel queasy on the inside. This book that made me need to isolate myself to think and to write down half this review when I was only 56% into the book. I don't know what to say about it. So I'll talk about myself for a bit.

When I was in primary 6 (11 years old), I endured what I still think was the worst bullying I had ever experienced in my life. I was bullied all through my school life really. But I think primary 6 was the worst because I was aware. I was aware of what was happening and I let it happen.

So this is what happened. In my primary school class, much like the classrooms in Wonder, we sit in twos. I was sitting next to this girl. Let's call her Jo. Behind me were two others and in front of me, two more. I thought the 6 of us were the best of friends. We used to play during lunch and we would send notes in class and eat together. We were friends. Until I wasn't. I remember this clearly only because I wrote about it in great detail in my old diary but what happened was that I accidentally gave Jo the wrong page numbers for our homework. It was a complete accident. Mind you, Jo was in school that day. She just wasn't paying attention.

So the next day, she got into a lot of trouble for not doing her homework and I of course didn't. I apologised profusely but she was mad. That day, after recess, I received a note from her. It was a sort of a contract and it was signed by 5 people. The same 5 people that sat around me and who I thought were my friends. It said that I had to change my attitude because it was really bad. According to the contract, the people that signed it were promising to not talk to me at all until Jo decided that my attitude was better. There was no mention of what it was I did wrong or how I could change or anything. I didn't even know what I had done wrong. Because as far as I knew, I did nothing wrong. Again, I was 11. So this was much like my world had just exploded.

Okay so that was day 1. The next day, more people in my class started signing it. Next thing I knew, people in other classes had signed it. Very quickly, people I didn't even know began signing the stupid contract.  I would ask someone something and they would be like, "I can't talk to you. I signed the contract." This lasted a week before I finally said something to my dad who talked to my teacher. She scolded Jo and the others and made them rip up the contract and apologise to me. Of course the problem didn't just vanish. I mean, a lot of things happened that week. The problem wasn't just that there was a contract. There was so much more that happened and so much more that happened throughout the entire year. But I won't go into it. All I will say is that at the end, I still embarrassingly enough, had to grovel to get my 'friends' back. I was 11. I was foolish and I let it happen.

The point of this story though was that for 1 whole week I was ostracised by everyone. Even people I didn't know. I pretty much was Auggie in that week. It was the most horrible week of my life. I had never felt so isolated and so belittled. What did I do wrong? I did nothing except to exist. The feeling was just indescribably awful.

So when I read this book, especially the Jack Wills chapter when the entire school froze him out, I got it. And I didn't like it that I got it. I felt queasy. I felt trapped because all the emotions from that awful week came rushing back at me. I didn't like that I got it. I was in school and I actually had to isolate myself during lunch to write all this down.

Okay I've just finished the book so let me talk to you more about it. Don't worry. No spoilers here. So the writing was excellent. It was very believable that the narrators were mostly 11 year olds. The way they reacted to things was also very understandable of people their age. I liked how the author got into the minds of children instead of making them overly philosophical and annoying.

I went into this book expecting to cry. And I did. I cried a lot. I had a lot of weird feels that I have never had when it comes to any other book. It was just strange and amazing at the same time.

I think if anything, this book really makes you think about how you treat other people. It really forces you to think. I mean we all want to be like the character of Summer. We all want to believe that when faced with someone with a disability or abnormality, we will react like how Summer did. But the truth is, most of us are Charlottes or Jacks. We try but when push comes to shove, we cannot see it through. We cannot defend our friendships with the less popular people. We show little bit of kindness but really we will not stick by them. I am like that. You are like that. And I think this book challenges us to be Summer. I know that I will now look at life differently. I will try to be Summer in the way I treat people who have difficulties. I mean, I don't know anyone who would strive to be Julian so.

Overall this was an amazing book. It's definately one of my new favourites and I've just got The Julian Chapter into my kindle and I'm reading it now and it's so exciting because people have been raving about it and I need to read it. It's a novella in the POV of the bully in the book by the way. So go read it. Now. Like go right now. Go. Click here. Buy the book. Now. Go.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars