After reading the first two sections of Wonder by
I am stopping myself from reading more of the book before I write this post and it was a little tricky to look for background information without spoiling the plot. So, I will admit I haven’t done my usual exploring of material on a book.
My first impression was “Wow, Palacio has created a strong and clear voice for August. It sounds like a 10-year-old boy!” When I got to part 2, I had not expected the voice to change (see, I really didn’t do any research!) so was surprised we heard from Via’s point of view. I am a sucker for an author who tells a story from multiple vantage points and creates compelling voices to go with the various points of view.
As I read this I wondered what compelled Palacio to write Wonder and I found this interview. (I only read the answer to the first question because it looked like there might be spoilers in the other questions).
“About five years ago I took my sons for ice cream, and while my older son went inside to buy us our milk shakes, my younger son and I waited on the bench outside. My younger son was only about 3 years old at the time, and he was in his stroller facing me while I sat on the bench. At a certain point I realized that sitting right next to me was a little girl with a severe craniofacial difference, her friend (or sister), and her mother. When my younger son looked up and saw her, he reacted exactly the way you might think a three-year old would react when seeing something that scared him: he started to cry—pretty loudly, too. I hurriedly tried to push him away in the stroller, not for his sake but to avoid hurting the girl’s feelings, and in my haste I caused my older son to spill the shakes, and, well, it was quite a scene—the opposite of what I had hoped for. But as I pushed my younger son’s stroller away I heard the little girl’s mom say, in as sweet and calm a voice as you can imagine: “Okay, guys, I think it’s time to go.” And that just got to me.
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how that scene had played out. It occurred to me that they probably went through something like that dozens of times a day. Hundreds of times. What would that be like? What could I be teaching my children so they could understand how to respond better next time? Is “don’t stare” even the right thing to teach, or is there something deeper? All this stuff was flying through my head, and I realized that I was disappointed in myself because I had missed a good teaching moment for my kids. What I should have done, instead of trying to get my kids away and avoid the situation, was engage the girl and her mother in conversation. If my son cried, so be it: kids cry. But I should have set a better example for him, and shown him there was nothing to fear. Instead I panicked. I simply didn’t have the wherewithal to know what to do in that situation.
Coincidentally, the song Wonder by Natalie Merchant came on the radio that night, as I was thinking about the ice cream incident, and something about the words to the song just got to me. I started writing Wonder that very night.
I like hearing what inspired a book, don’t you?
So much in this book relates to life overseas.
Needing to take risks and learn a new system.
Trying to figure out who is really your friend and who might have an angle . . . and then when you realize a friendship might not have been what you thought it was, deal with the hurt, disappointment, and anger.
“The only reason I’m not normal is because no one sees me that way.” August
“I held on to the secret and it covered me like a blanket.” Via
Parents trying to provide and protect their children, while dealing with their own experience of parenting a child they had not expected to be parenting.
The repeated phrase of “moments”—how it only took a moment for a look to cross a person’s face and how a moment can influence how we see something. I know I’ve had moments when I have received or made a look.
As Via expressed, when a family member—for understandable reasons—is a bit like the sun in the family, with much of life revolving around their needs how does that impact everyone in the family? How do you attend to the needs of all? How does this apply to team and organizational life?
How do you help your children (and yourself) interact honorably with those who look different?
Many rich themes in this one! I’m working on special interviews for our next two weeks.
See you in the comments!