Disclaimer: We attended a free screening of Wonder to facilitate this review. The thoughts and opinions below are my own.
Fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle… – Natalie Merchant, “Wonder”
I took Eva to see Wonder a couple of days ago because I adore the book but we haven’t gotten around to reading it together as a family yet. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be too heavy for her, since it’s for a slightly older audience than we usually hit at the theater, but she got everything out of it that I wanted her to and more. And, yes, I cried.
If you haven’t read Wonder by R.J. Palacio, YOU HAVE TO READ WONDER BY R.J. PALACIO. I love that book so hard. It’s the kind where you finish it and then start over right away because once isn’t enough. That being said, I do think that the movie does the book justice and the casting is phenomenal. So I suppose it’s ok if you see the movie (which comes out tomorrow on November 17) and then read the book but no matter what you have to read this book. It’s a must. And if you have kids, just stop what you’re doing and get them this book.
I don’t want to give too much away but the basic story centers around Auggie, a kid with facial differences who starts middle school after being homeschooled all of his life. The movie pulled some punches with the deformity because it sounds much more severe in the book than it looked on screen but it was enough to make Eva immediately lean over to whisper, “What is wrong with his face??” and that’s kind of the whole point.
One of my favorite characters in the book is Mr. Browne, Auggie’s homeroom teacher, who introduces his class to a number of precepts throughout the year. These quotes and mottos are so good that I bought a separate book with 365 of Mr. Browne’s precepts and we use them when we do our family nights.
If you see this movie this weekend, (A) bring tissues and (B) see it early enough that you have time to talk to your kids about it afterward. Eva and I had a great discussion because I asked her if there was ever a time that she wasn’t nice to someone else because of how they looked (a huge theme in the book/movie, of course) and when she admitted that there had been a time we did perspective role-play on how that other person might have felt AND how Eva felt when it was all happening. Then we wrote a letter together apologizing to the person. It will never be mailed because we’ve lost touch with this girl but it was a good exercise to talk it through and have her really think about her actions. We’ve all been there and I’m glad that she’s thinking about these sorts of things as early as possible!
Wonder is out tomorrow. The cast is amazing. You’ll love it. That is all.