Wonder, the Saga
Wonder is a simple, family-oriented story that came about in a time when readers seemed to be caught in the spell of fantasy and dark stories. It was published in 2012 and made it on the Best Seller lists in many countries.
The protagonist of Wonder is August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy with a severe facial malformation caused by Treacher Collins syndrome. Despite the syndrome, August is a normal child. He faces the same challenges that every other kid about to become a teenager has to face. But he was born with a peculiar face, making something that’s already hard even harder. Fortunately, he has the support of his family and friends.
“… and the universe doesn’t abandon us. It cares for its most fragile creations in an invisible way. For example, with parents who adore you blindly…”
August doesn’t go out much, and his life takes place within the cozy confines of his house in the company of his family and dog, Daisy. Not to mention the incredible stories of Star Wars.
However, everything will change when he goes to school for the first time. Soon, he will learn the most important lesson of his life. A lesson that isn’t taught in the classroom, one you won’t find in a textbook.
The lesson of growing in the face of adversity, accepting yourself as you are. Smiling through rough days and having faith that, in the end, you’ll always find a helping hand. August will go on a long and passionate journey through fifth grade to learn these big lessons. Lessons that we could all stand to be reminded of.
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives. Because we all beat the world.”
Wonder: raising awareness about bullying and Treacher Collins syndrome
Wonder is the first book Raquel Jaramillo Palacio ever published, the first installment of what would later become an entire saga, the Wonder saga. In the other books, the other characters tell us the same story from different points of view.
Wonder is being used in schools to raise awareness about bullying and teach kids about Treacher Collins syndrome. Some parents with children affected by this syndrome say that the book reflects the illness and the difficulties it entails very well.
It’s not really about the illness, but about the weight of being different or not being considered “normal.” August will be rejected by some of his classmates, especially by the most popular kids. Especially Julian, who will put as many obstacles in his path as he can.
“Sometimes it’s impossible to be just another person in the crowd, no matter how hard you try.”
There are various study guides online that students can work through to delve into the content of the Wonder saga. The guides can help them understand the characters and learn to accept themselves and others. It’s a highly recommended, original book and movie.
Plus, it’s easy to identify with many of the characters. In fact, this is the genius of the story, that even though there’s a main character, he won’t be the only one to tell us the story. There are many characters who will narrate the story of Wonder from their own perspective.
Whoever you are, whatever you’re like, August will touch your heart.
The author of Wonder
The author, R.J. Palacio, was inspired by the title of a song by Natalie Merchant: Wonder. It originated with an incident that occurred almost a decade ago. Her youngest son was three years old and was panic-stricken upon seeing a girl with Treacher Collins syndrome. The uncomfortable situation had an impact on the author. She was inspired to write her first book.
Before, R.J. Palacio had designed book covers for hundreds of authors, all the while dreaming of writing a novel of her own someday. She was convinced that day would never come, until she realized that the only thing she needed to do was start writing. And that’s how Wonder was born, the first book in the Wonder saga.
Other books in the series include:
- The Julian Chapter
- 365 Days of Wonder. When the author decided to write this book, she asked her readers for help. In two weeks, she received over a thousand letters from all over the world.
The author is convinced that there are more good people than bad people in the world. This goes against the tendency of many people to focus on the negative. The author emphasizes the importance of appreciating and being grateful for life. And especially for the noble, kind, good-hearted people who come into our lives.
Wonder, the movie
The movie came out in December 2017. Director Stephen Chbosky, advised by author Raquel Jaramillo, had the goal of the movie being true to the book and the author’s idea. The cast features actors Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as the main character’s parents, and Jacob Tremblay in the role of August.
“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way. If they stare, let them stare. You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”