#ThrowbackThursday: Auggie and Me Review

auggie and me

I bet you wonder what I thought of this book. (See what I did there :)?)

Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio goes deeper into the lives of three characters from Wonder, a fantastic book about Auggie Pullman, a boy with a craniofacial deformity, as he navigates through middle school (check out my review of Wonder here). In this book, readers get to see the perspectives of the bully Julian, Auggie’s old friend Christopher, and the goody two shoes Charlotte.

Even though I really enjoyed Wonder, I didn’t find myself as invested in Auggie and Me. I understand that the stories weren’t supposed to center on Auggie, but as the book continued, the book had less and less to do with the original story. In Charlotte’s story, it felt like the connection was held together by a thread. Since the three different stories also loosely relate to each other, I will review them all separately.

The Julian Chapter

julian

Out of all the three stories, the Julian Chapter was definitely my favorite and most anticipated story. Julian’s Chapter was also the story with the strongest ties to the original story. It was interesting to see why Julian reacted the way he did and how many of his perceptions were the results of his parents’ actions. However, I like how the author allowed Julian to not be bound by his parent’s opinions and form his own.

Since Julian’s Chapter is the most anticipated out of the three stories and the time frame is the longest (it also includes the summer after the school year), I think this chapter would be better placed at the end of the book. While this story will get the reader’s attention, neither of the following stories really do and I felt myself losing interest as I kept reading the book in its entirety.

Pluto

pluto

Pluto follows Auggie’s childhood best friend, Christopher. One aspect of Christopher’s story that I really enjoyed was getting to see a part of Auggie’s childhood from a different perspective. Even though Christopher’s story does distance itself a bit, there still is a clear connection how his early experiences with Auggie affect his experiences now, which is much harder to see in the next part, Shingaling.

Overall, Christopher’s section was okay. I think this story would be better placed at the beginning of the book since we get to see Auggie at a younger age and Christopher’s story ends within the time frame of Wonder. Also, even though I can’t put my finger on exactly what, this part needed something else to make it really stand out and reach the caliber of the original story.

Shingaling

shingaling

Shingaling is the final part of Auggie and Me and the part that least relates to the original story. Shingaling follows Charlotte, part of Auggie’s original welcoming committee, as she performs in a dance with Summer and one of the popular girls. I think I would have liked Charlotte’s story more if it wasn’t included in this collection. The dynamics of girl friendships at this age were very real and I liked the message that you can’t just be nice, you have to be kind. Even though the connection to Auggie’s story is there, it is rushed within two sentences at the end.

I understand that this is not Auggie’s story, however if the book’s purpose is to show how dramatically Auggie affected these three people’s lives, you would think that he would be mentioned more than a handful of times. I would have preferred if Charlotte’s story was even it’s own book because I think the themes presented would be more impactful if they were fleshed out and not rushed in a short section of a book. Also, like with the other stories, I think the placement of this section is off and would be better suited to the middle of the three stories.

I rate this book three out of five stars.

 

Which story was your favorite?

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Wonder Review

wonderWhen given the chance between being right and being kind, choose kind.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is an inspirational middle-grade novel with well-developed and authentic characters that should be at the top of your TBR pile.

Wonder follows fifth grader August “Auggie” Pullman as he enters school for the first time. Auggie never went to school for medical reasons due to severe craniofacial anomalies that cause other people to stare or even scream at him. While Auggie sees himself as a normal fifth grade boy, many of his classmates do not–they refuse to be near him and are even afraid to accidentally touch him. Told through several points of views, readers learn about Auggie’s story and how it affects every one around him.

There are so many reasons why I love this book. I love how the author uses multiple characters to tell the story so we can see how many different people react to Auggie and how they change because of his story. All of the characters are unique and none of them are perfect, which makes each character very authentic. Initially, I was disappointed that Julian didn’t have a chapter, but after reading the author’s reasoning on her website, I’m glad that she didn’t (read her reasoning here).

Even though we don’t get a Julian chapter, I think the emails from Julian’s parents contrasted with Jack’s story with his babysitter help us understand Julian’s actions, even if we don’t agree with them. It shows the large role that adults play in shaping children’s opinions. I’m studying special education in college and whenever I tell people this, they automatically assume that I’m working with students who have no ability to learn any school content. In this book, Julian’s parents just look at Auggie and assume he can’t be learning the same material as their son, even though he outperforms many students in fifth grade. On the other hand, Jack experiences something completely different, which affects how he treats Auggie. All of the little stories in this book were so realistic and helped me better understand the character’s motivations and actions.

I also enjoyed the precepts at the end of the book that were submitted by the students over the summer. I liked how they really showed each character’s personality and for some it showed their growth. I was expecting the precepts to be part of the big moment at the ending, but I’m actually glad they weren’t because it made the book less predictable. Also, the big moment at the end better suits the book.

Overall, Wonder is a wonderful story with a great message, so I give Wonder five out of five stars.

Who was your favorite character in Wonder?