I usually don’t do two of these per day, but I’ll be really busy at work next week, so let’s take advantage of the weekend! I spent most of yesterday reading this charming book. Augie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, by R.J. Palacio, is a companion to the beautiful young adult novel, Wonder, that I read last year. It’s not a sequel, since the author has vowed not to write a sequel, so readers can imagine the future of Augie, the kid with facial deformities who’s the star of Wonder.
If you know middle-school kids struggling to fit in, dealing with bullying, or even not able to figure out how they got to be the popular kid, give them both these books! And if you are an adult and want to read something positive and yet realistic, I recommend them strongly.
Augie & Me really is three short stories or novellas, each of which has been published as an e-book before this compilation. Every chapter is from the point of view of one of the characters in Wonder. Palacio says that she didn’t fully develop these characters in the first book, since it might have taken away from the points she was making, but she knew they each had a story!
I always enjoy reading from the point of view of older children, and each of these characters, Julian, Chris, and Charlotte is on the cusp between childhood and teenhood. There sure is a lot to be confused about at that age, but all three stories revolve around figuring out whether your initial perceptions of people are accurate, and discovering how people perceive you doesn’t necessarily jibe with how you perceive yourself.
Shoot, we can all use a dose of that, right?
One thing that made this book enjoyable to read as an adult is that Palacio does not make all the adults out to be bumbling idiots or fools. There are many adults who are respected by the young people in the book, and it’s heartwarming to read about how they appreciate even the quirks and foibles of their teachers and the other kids’ parents. Every character in the book has their good points and challenging areas, just like people in real life, and if young adult readers can learn this lesson early, wow, their lives will be a lot easier!
I tell you what, immersing myself deeply into the characters of this novel, as well as A Simple Favor, enabled me to stop thinking about how cold I was and how dark it is in the house without power. Books really are wonderful things!