Friday, 7 June 2013

The wonder of Wonder: 5 reasons I love this book

May was madness in our house. The combination of a well-above average number of writing projects, the kids' school and sports commitments, the impending publication of Burned and all of us bar the dog falling sick, meant my stress levels were at an all-time high. Trying to squeeze more productive hours out of each day, I got up too early, went to bed too late, and ditched every task I deemed 'non-essential'. Sadly, reading was one of the casualties.

So it has taken me weeks to read R. J. Palacio's Wonder. I read the last few pages this morning and am so glad I did. It's one of the best books I've read in ages. Here's why:

1. It's a simple story, beautifully told. The language is restrained, understated and all the more powerful for it. Here's the most famous example:
'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' 
2. The story allows us to inhabit the minds of kids and adults. As we follow August's journey through fifth grade, we see his story from several points of view. It's a great technique and skillfully used here - all our questions are answered but with the lightest of touches.

3. It's an elegantly structured book - the story arc follows the school year and each bite-sized chapter leaves you wanting more.

4. Its simplicity is deceptive. As I say, in many ways Wonder is a simple tale, but it does pose bigger questions. 'Which side of the fence would I be on in this situation?' for starters.

5. Wonder is, without question, a great read for adults or kids. Better still you can enjoy it together - I'm going to start it with my boys tonight.

There is so much I can learn from this book, as a writer and as a human being. I saw on Twitter that Wonder is being made into a movie. I'll be first in the queue.

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