Book Report: Augie and Me

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

I also love the covers of all the books in this series.

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!

Book Report: Wonder

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Even though practically no one reads my book reviews, I have another one already. That’s what you get when you pick up a Young Adult selection; they go fast.

The Wall Street Journal is right! The cover does not lie.

Oddly enough, I am not sure where this book came from. Maybe someone loaned it to me? Maybe I bought it that last, wonderful time I went to Barnes & Noble and got it on sale? Anyway, I’m glad Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (apparently a pseudonym) showed up magically in my stack of books to read. I needed something uplifting and cheerful, in which everyone learns from their mistakes and grows.

I can see why Wonder was a best seller and why lots and lots of adults read it. All the characters in the book were interesting and fun to learn about. It made you want to follow them as they go through the rest of school. It’s great to see how people learn and screw up and keep learning, including the adults in the book.

Also, it’s just funny, and I think that’s important, since a book about the trials of a child with facial deformities going to school for the first time could be mostly heartbreak, otherwise. Instead, you empathize along with everyone as the hero, Auggie, shows how much of a normal (and resilient) kid he is and makes it through the ups and downs of his first year in a school.

Lee and Penney patiently waited for me to read the book aloud, but I told them I’d do it later.

If you have a child who’s “different” in any way, this would be good to read along with. And if you were a “different” child, you’ll enjoy rooting for Auggie and his family. I’m glad I had parents who were supportive like his, since I played the role of Auggie’s big sister in protecting my younger brother, who wore an eye patch and got picked on when he was little. We both ended up fine, or at least survived to adulthood!

I promise I’ll write something on another topic later. Until then, enjoy the new week.