Webs, weeds and wisdom: Full of enthusiasm for a weekend filled with ‘Wonder’

Full of enthusiasm for a book called Wonder, my friend lent it to me, assuring me it was worth reading.

I took it home and put it on a shelf near my favourite seat. And went about other activities. I wasn’t ready to read it. It’s about a child who is ridiculed for his disfigurement. I wondered why I had agreed I should read it. My friend’s enthusiasm had caught me! The book sat for days on that shelf. I’d pass by and glance at it. No, not yet. No, I haven’t time at the moment. Each time I’d pass it up, I had to face my own lack of grit, my decided lack of courage. Several days passed thus.

The weekend arrived and I resolved to read it. The book is about a boy called Auggie who, by the age of 10, has had 27 operations to give him a more acceptable and functional face. Auggie is a good-humoured, quite funny little fellow, intelligent and sensitive. He’s courageous, and kind. Yet, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame or the Phantom at the Opera, or even Philip Rhayader in Paul Gallico’s classic The Snow Goose, this child is so deformed facially that people are appalled and instinctively recoil on seeing him.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

So what happens to Auggie when he has to face going to school for the first time? How does he handle the other children and more to the point how do they respond to him? Can he find acceptance and friendship?

R.J. Palacio has written a spare, compassionate, uplifting story, a real page-turner of a book. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s a thoughtful, wonderful read, and read you must!

Preview of the movie 'Wonder'

Later this year it will be released as a movie starring Julia Roberts as Auggie’s mother and Owen Wilson as his father. And, it would appear that the young actor playing Auggie is not made up to be quite as disfigured as described in the book, which may lead you to question if Hollywood has photoshopped Palacio’s character? Release date is November 30.

- KATE WALKER