Wonder Read-Along, Part 2
Getting into the second half of Wonder, I found myself more engaged in the story. However, I did skim some sections. I already wrote last time about how I don't like when novel changes point of view for multiple characters. Maybe just two, but if you have multiple, there is a lot of repetition that isn't necessary and you don't get a full resolution for the main character. Or the side characters.
And while at at first complained about the tone and voice in the beginning of the novel, I still would have preferred the novel if it was all in one point of view. Or, at the very least, just the fifth graders' point of view. It's too much to include everyone. And then Justin's point of view is in all lower case. I'm not sure what the point is. (And I LOVE ee cummings!) To me, as a writer, it felt like a cop-out.
I heard somewhere that Wonder was Palacio's first attempt as writing after decades as an illustrator. If that's true, I can see it. She's an okay writer. And the story has so much potential. So what I wanted was for her editor to help her raise her writing to GREAT.
Truth be told, the multiple shifting points of view mostly reminded my of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper. And I didn't finish that book. There were multiple reasons besides the fact that the changing point of view was driving me crazy and it felt like too much like a 'what-if' scenario type book or like someone assigned a writing assignment about being the non-sick sibling and that's what she came up with. (Yes, I know the twist. Yes, I still didn't finish it. But that stems MOSTLY from the fact that I was reading it with a book club at the time and the person who chose it didn't realize that my daughter had just recently died. No way was I going to finish that book. I was going through enough grief as it was. I could barely sit through our meeting.)
The other day I was listening to Film Week with Larry Mantle on NPR. One of the film critics was talking about the film, Everyday, and how the concept was a being a bit driven into the ground. Another person compared it to when you want something more than just a teen romance to be about teen romance. And that's my overall feeling about Wonder: while the theme is there, I wanted it to be something more than varying points of view about a kid with a craniofacial abnormality status post multiple surgeries. I wanted the points of view to at least be pared down or moving the story forward.
Here's the thing: once we veered back into Auggie's point of view later in the book, it starts to pick up in the action. And though I initially complained about Auggie's point of view, I'd rather hear the story from him than from the surrounding characters. In the end, the book feels satisfying as it concludes, though I still wish something MORE would have happened.
Maybe that's the point. It's just about his first year at school and how he conquers it. After all <SPOILER ALERT>, when Auggie receives his award at the end, he's not quite sure what he's done to receive it. Except he's been brave and he's been true to himself. And I definitely agree with him that EVERYONE DESERVES A STANDING OVATION AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIME.
My favorite part is still Mr. Browne's precepts and the fact that he has kids send him a postcard with their own precepts over the summer.
- The point of view shifts work better in film than in the novel. And, honestly, the actors portray the kids so well that I'm immediately sucked in. I found Auggie, Jack, Olivia, and Justin not just believable but likeable.
- Mini Me liked Auggie's little 'daydreams' that included Chewbacca showing up. And the fact that Auggie didn't like dodge ball (which she related to wholeheartedly). The characters where just so much more in depth here.
- And just like in the novel, I like that it was centered around Auggie's family. Family is an important element of the book, even the characters who aren't there, like Via/Olivia's relationship with her Grans.
- Side note: EVERY time that Daveed Diggs (as Mr. Browne) appeared on screen, I shouted out "Lafayette"! My girls were giggling AND rolling their eyes at me. It's their fault that all the Hamilton songs are stuck in my head ALL the time.
- Okay <spoiler alert>, I may have also laughed when Julian's parents came in to see Mr. Tushman the principal and Julian's mom was so condescending. In the novel, Julian's mom writes ridiculous letters to Mr. Tushman about how Auggie shouldn't be at their private school, insinuating that he has special needs that may not be fulfilled at the school. In fact, Auggie is one of the brightest kids there, especially in Science. So I did love the fact that Palacio highlighted the ridiculousness of some parents in trying to sway a school in one direction. And, more importantly, I loved the fact that Palacio really emphasized that just because someone looks different or may have some underlying medical issues, does not mean that they are developmentally delayed as well. A fantastic point.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. I'm not sure I would have watched it if I hadn't read the book and wanted to compare, but it was well-made and well-acted. And, I truly felt more for the characters in the film than in the novel. So for me, the movie was definitely better than the book. But kudos to R.J. Palacio for creating some special moments in her writing.
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
What did you think about the second half of Wonder? What are your thoughts about the movie versus the book?
Do you skip ahead or skip around when you're reading?
What is your favorite precept? Or what would you send Mr. Browne as your precept on a postcard?
I'd love to hear your comments below, on Instagram, via email, or in person. :D Thank you for reading along with me!
My precept would be: