Wonder ends with a bit of a teary eyed moment but as a whole definitely is a one and done type of book.
Previous Recap: Part 1 to Part 4
|Raquel J. Palacio|
Part 5: Justin
Justin is introduced to us and like most people in this book, he is a very nice person. Like many, Auggie took a bit of getting used to but after that, he became part of the family and loved that he was so cordially invited. Especially since Justin doesn’t have the most loving and active family.
As for the noteworthy moments of this part? Well, there is the dad explaining how he bought Daisy off of a homeless man. Also, there is him scaring off Julian and his lackeys from bullying Jack. But perhaps the sort of big thing is Justin learning Miranda and Olivia used to be friends. Something he kind of makes a big deal out of until Olivia starts crying.
Not over him making her feel bad but more so how much work she is putting into Our Town [External] and yet she feels she can’t tell her parents. Mind you, it isn’t because she doesn’t want them to come. More so it is because she doesn’t want to deal with being labeled Auggie’s sister again. An issue which carries over into the next part.
Part 6: Auggie
Our star returns and oh is this a doozy of a part. Between the bullying caused by Julian and losing Daisy, things are bad. However, with him realizing that Via doesn’t want him to come to her play, alongside him having to get hearing aids, it is way too much for him to handle.
Yet, life goes on. Olivia backs down from trying to omit Auggie from the play when she learns that means only having one parent going. Plus, after Daisy dies, it kind of pushes the family together.
Which ends up being good for Olivia since, while Miranda was cast to play Emily, she suddenly isn’t able to go on. This leads Olivia to having to play the part and it is a resounding success! One which leads to Olivia’s parents, and of course Auggie, to go backstage to congratulate her. Something that turns out kind of bad for Auggie since, with him being a little guy, in a huge crowd of taller people, he gets lost.
Luckily for him, however, Miranda finds him.
Part 7: Miranda
The shortest section of the book is only 12 pages. In it, you begin to get the vibe that R.J. Palacio really wants to push how perfect Auggie’s family is compared to everyone else’s. We already know how Justin’s is a bit neglectful but then Miranda’s joins the crew. But, her chapter, or part, was necessary for us understand why the sudden distance from Via. You see, it is because, over the summer, as she was at camp, she pretty much stole Via’s identity. From the dog named Daisy to “deformed” brother, she used Via’s life to seem more interesting.
Yet, with her knowing Auggie since he was six, getting him the infamous helmet, and spending quality time with him, through watching every Star Wars, she doesn’t feel like it was a total lie. But, it isn’t just guilt that kept Miranda from calling and hanging out with Via. Arguably, it was also just not wanting to be around Via’s semi-perfect family.
Think about it. Your parents are divorcing, your mom is going through it to the point of becoming distant, and your dad is in the process of starting a new family. One in which you aren’t really invited to. So, as a sort of opposite to Justin, while his dysfunctional family draws him closer to Olivia’s, it sort of pushes Miranda a way. Hence why Ella seemed like the better friend. She wouldn’t have to deal with questions about how she was doing with her parents having so much going on and etc. With Ella, her focus is just the fun and non-serious stuff. Such as Miranda’s new hair color or the boys she met at camp.
But, after avoiding Via, or just doing cordial “hellos,” she decides to join the drama elective after Via does. Maybe since, with Via now having a boyfriend, it showed it wasn’t just Ella and Miranda changing as freshmen. So now, with Via perhaps catching up, or having something Miranda could connect with, since she is dating too, they could reconnect? For another factor in the distance was how much Ella and she had changed but Via remained the same girl.
Either way, Miranda joining may have prevented a really awkward moment. You see, originally the spring production was going to be The Elephant Man [External]. However, with Miranda mentioning how that play would hit too close to home, reluctantly the teacher changes it. Which benefits Miranda since she gets the lead part but, no one came to see her on opening night. No mom, no dad, and yet there is Isabel, Nate and Auggie and Via as her understudy.
Leading to, as perhaps her version of an apology, faking sick so Via could have the spotlight. Which, after all was said and done, was probably a good thing. For with her finding Auggie and reconnecting with Via’s parents, she finds herself coerced into a late night dinner. One which, leads to her reconciling with an old friend.
Part 8: Auggie
The book ends with a major bullying incident followed up by a heartwarming moment. The bullying incident happens as Auggie’s grade goes on a class trip into nature. Something Auggie thoroughly enjoys, even with him missing his family. But then, on one of the final days, a movie night, as he goes with Jack to pee in the woods, some older kids make fun of him. In fact, they go beyond that and downright scare the crap out of him. However, Julian’s former lackeys come to his aid and while they get chased and Auggie loses his hearing aid, it seems his former problems with the boys are over. Especially since the tables have turned and Julian not only lost his supporters but switched schools.
Leaving us with a rather teary-eyed moment. One in which, at graduation, Auggie wins the award which is named after his school’s founder. Something that, likely, will end the film adaptation coming up in a few weeks.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- Justin’s parents got divorced when he was 4 and he has an older, by 5 years, half-brother.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- What does Nate do to afford private school tuition for Auggie, his wife to be a homemaker, and to be able to afford all Auggie needs to live comfortably?
- Did anyone else think Jack was going to win the award from Mr. Tushman? Maybe as a middle finger to Julian’s parents?
The Following is An Overall Review of the Book
It Has Its Touching Moments
Though interrupted by a parade of Auggie’s, or Olivia’s, associates, when the book is giving us Auggie’s point of view solely, you get a real touching tale. One dealing with bullying, perhaps false hope in thinking you aren’t being judged for stuff out of your control, and just general insecurities. Yet, towards the end, showing people can change, evolve, maybe learn tolerance, or even the real goal: acceptance. For as Auggie goes from the orc to “Little Dude,” he finds a community at his school. One in which he is protected, recognized, validated and everything most human beings desire.
On The Fence
The Switching of Character Focuses Take Away From Auggie’s Story
The fact that the book gives you a first person and third person viewpoint of Auggie’s life, or having him in yours, leads to mixed results. On one hand, Olivia’s experience helps you understand both this benevolent side of the doting sister yet also the person who wants the time and attention her parents can’t often afford. But, on the other hand, we also get the point of view of Olivia’s boyfriend Justin, her former best friend Miranda, and even Auggie’s friends.
Of which, they come in just as the book seems to be reaching a very emotional moment for Auggie. Thus putting a firm stop to your emotional investment and then switching you to characters that feel forced upon you. All of whom you do come around to enjoy, be it their person or perspective. However, considering how Isabel and Nate don’t get to speak on raising a child who is physically deformed, dealing with people who stare, and things of that nature, it makes the fact Justin gets a whole part seem ridiculous.
But the main issue for Wonder is, again, the fact that these switches seem purely to keep Auggie from becoming too sad of a character. To keep this book from becoming labeled as a tear jerker and instead trying to show how nice and kind people are. A sort of, 300 page long, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” piece.
The Ideal Family & Situation
I don’t know why, but something bugged me about Auggie being made out to be this blemish on this otherwise perfect family. Miranda’s parents are divorced and her dad has moved on without much issue. Justin’s family too seem like their issues would never be seen on The Disney Channel. Yet, here is Auggie’s perfect family. The dad makes enough for the mom to not work, they both are so loving that Olivia’s friends are envious of them. When it comes to Auggie’s friends’ parents, they seem to gravitate toward Nate and Isabel, and it just makes things too ideal.
Which I get is because this book is made for kids. So, naturally, they aren’t going to dive deep into medical costs and what strain that may put on Nate. Outside of one incident, there isn’t going to be Olivia being jealous of the time and attention Auggie requires or the guilt which comes with it. Heck, as noted, we also don’t get to understand Nate or Isabel’s emotional trauma from having a kid go through nearly two dozen surgeries. Since apparently, their perspective wasn’t important enough.
And I could go on and on but at the end of the day you have to come to the fact this book was not made to dig into the wound too much. All it really seeks out to do is graze the scab of a kid living a life where strangers look at him funny and full grown adults judge him before knowing him. A topic which seemingly is explored in Julian’s standalone book [External] which, retroactively, I wished was put in the main book. It would have been nice to have one person who didn’t show the best of humanity and exhibited how bullies like Julian are formed.
But again, the book is for kids, is very much about trying to push the idea the world can be this ideal place, so you have to take the message with a grain of salt.
Overall: Mixed (Borrow)
While by no means terrible, Wonder does shy away from a sense of realness and is rooted in idealism. Of which you can contribute to its market being that of kids. Which isn’t to imply adults couldn’t enjoy this. However, said adult, even teen, would have to enjoy lighter material. The kind which doesn’t dig deep into the wound or problems of its characters. Instead, it sort of grazes over them so that a pang of discomfort can be felt but not outright pain.
Though, what ultimately makes Wonder a book to borrow, rather than buy, is that it doesn’t really stand out. At least, if you are someone who, again, doesn’t gravitate to books like this. It makes for a quick read to kill time on your commute, but isn’t something worth taking up permanent space on a bookshelf or a device. It’s a one and done type of book.